UK’s Most Senior Judge Visits Island

Article Posted: 24th Oct 2013

The IOM Law Society,
working in conjunction with the IOM courts, was delighted to welcome Lord
Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, as speaker at
the 2013 Caroline Weatherill Memorial Lecture at the Manx Museum on October 11.

In a united show of true Manx hospitality the Lieutenant Governor, Adam Wood;
the President of Tynwald, Clare Christian; the First Deemster, David Doyle and
Law Society President Kevin O’Riordan entertained Lord Neuberger on his recent
visit to the Island ensuring that he was able to tour the Isle of Man Courts of
Justice buildings; the precincts of Tynwald; dine with the Manx Judiciary and
meet members of the Manx Bar at the evening lecture.

Addressing a full house in the Manx Museum’s lecture theatre, Lord Neuberger
spoke of the role of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) – the
highest Appeal Court for many jurisdictions including the Isle of Man.

In the clearest of language and in a speech full of humour, we learnt that in
2009 the JCPC moved from its home behind a dirty, shabby door at 9 Downing
Street to splendid new premises at the renovated Middlesex Guildhall on
Parliament Square in London.

There, appeals are heard before a small panel of the most senior judges.
During such hearings, the flag of the jurisdiction from whence the Appeal
comes, is displayed and Lord Neuberger spoke of “the evocative and
unmistakable three armoured legs with golden spurs making up the ancient
triseklion in the centre of [the Manx] bright red flag” when Appeals from
the IOM are heard.

Lord Neuberger advised that visitors can attend hearings of the JCPC and
painted such an attractive and inviting picture that it seems certain that some
of the audience will do so.  Noting that there may have been resistance in
some communities to important judicial decisions being taken outside their own
jurisdiction, he observed that the composition of the JCPC had begun to change
and included, on occasion, judges from outside the UK. In 2001, Dame Sian Elias
of New Zealand became the first female judge to sit on the JCPC.

With regard to decisions relating to the Isle of Man, Lord Neuberger stated
that it is in fact the Queen who formally makes the decisions on the advice of
the JCPC, although in practice it is unthinkable that the Queen would dissent
from such advice. The effect however, is that in legal terms the decision is
made by the head of the territory (in Isle of Man terms the Queen as Lord of
Man) which has both “constitutional and symbolic significance”.

In 1716 it was clearly established that appeals from the IOM could be
heard by the Privy Council although the first written reference to an appeal to
the Privy Council from the Isle of Man was in 1522 and is reported in the Manx
Law Reports 1522-1920 at page 1. Since that time a range of issues has been
decided including the denial of the Crown’s entitlement to clay and sand
in Manx inheritance estates, the appropriateness of statements of the Bishop
and a ruling on the nature of pre-nuptial agreements. More recently however,
appeals tend to have an international commercial basis with some having
“landmark” status.

The Law Society thanked its sponsors Conister Bank and Advocates’ practices
Appleby and Cains and presented Lord Neuberger with gold cufflinks. The cufflinks,
designed by the late Deemster Kerruish bear a Manx Celtic motif and are
presented to speakers of the Caroline Weatherill lecture and members of the
judiciary from time to time (a pair was presented to Deemster Kerruish shortly
before his untimely death).

Those wishing to view the full text of Lord Neuberger’s speech can do so on the
IOM Courts’ website: