A Court of Specialists: Judicial Behavior on the UK > Supreme Court

This paper presents findings from the author's recent book – A Court of Specialists: Judicial Behavior on the UK Supreme Court /(OUP 2020). The nature of the UK's court system means that judges arrive on the court as specialists in one or more areas of law (such as commercial law or family law), or even systems of law (the court's Scottish and Northern Irish judges). The book shows that specialisms markedly affect behavior on the court. Specialists in an area of law are more likely to hear cases in that area, and are more likely to write the lead opinion in that area. Non-specialists are less likely to disagree with specialists, and so disagreement is more likely to emerge when multiple specialists end up on the panel. Although political divisions between the justices do exist, these differences are much less marked than the divisions between experts in different areas of the law. The best way of understanding the UK Supreme Court is therefore to see it as a court of specialists.