Judicial independence is increasingly under threat, at home and abroad. The rise of populist and nationalist sentiment threatens to undermine the separation of powers, with judges being portrayed as elitist and ‘enemies of the people’, and governmental interference with judicial matters becoming routine. In the UK, the attack by the press on the High Court judges that decided the Miller case (finding that Theresa May was not able to trigger Art 50 without Parliament’s authorization) offers a key illustration. Trump, Poland, Turkey provide other recent examples.
The British Academy is organizing a major interdisciplinary conference this week (8-9 March), on 'Challenges to Judicial Independence in Times of Crisis', which seeks to situate contemporary challenges to judicial independence in their legal, philosophical, sociopolitical, comparative and historical contexts. The conference asks what core shared democratic values judicial independence seeks to protect, and how can threats to that independence be protected against.
Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos of the Brunel Law School is co-convening the conference. His application to the British Academy conferences fund, with Dr Yvonne McDermott Rees (Swansea), was among the 6 applications funded this year, from a total of approximately 90. The conference will bring together academic scholars, judges, politicians, third sector experts and legal professionals.
The former LCJ, Lord Thomas, Lord Kerr of the UK Supreme Court, Dame Sue Carr, Presiding Judge of the Midland Circuit, M Guy Canivet, former President of the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation), the former UK judge at the European Court of Justice, Sir Konrad Schiemman, and member of the parole board HH Jeremy Roberts QC are among eminent members of the judiciary who are speaking at the conference.
Brunel’s Professor Julian Petley will also be speaking at the event on the topic of 'Anti-juridicalism in the British press'.