On 2 April 2009 I announced that the Middlesex Guildhall had been handed over to the Ministry of Justice. I am pleased to be able to report further significant progress on the Supreme Court Implementation Programme—the programme remains on time and within budget.
First, I have received a written assurance from the noble and learned Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers that the Law Lords are satisfied that the refurbished Middlesex Guildhall will meet the needs of the new Supreme Court. The refurbishment has been completed to the highest standards, respecting the heritage of this unique building. This is consistent with both the status of the court and the needs of the Supreme Court Justices, court users and the public for modern accessible facilities. On this basis I have now signed the commencement order that will enable the court to come into being on 1 October 2009, as I am satisfied the court will be fully operational by that date.
Lord Phillips has made the rules that will underpin the workings of the court and these have been laid before Parliament. In making the rules, Lord Phillips has taken into account his statutory duty to ensure that the rules are both simple and simply expressed and that they have a view to ensuring the court is accessible, fair and efficient. The rules have been widely supported on consultation.
In addition the responses to public consultation on the fees payable in the court have been analysed. A summary of the responses to consultation and the Government’s proposed way forward have now been published. Consultees were in general agreement with the course proposed, with the exception of fees for devolution cases. While consultees agreed that the fees for devolution cases should be brought into line with civil fees generally, they were concerned that to make this change in one step represented too steep an increase—we have therefore decided to implement this change in stages.
The Fees Order for the court will be laid on this basis.
I previously announced that the anticipated running costs for the UK Supreme Court would be £12.3 million. At present Her Majesty’s Court Service pays £1.2 million pension and national insurance contributions with respect to the Law Lords. For transparency this will be transferred to the UK Supreme Court from 1 October. This does not represent any additional cost to the public purse. For the first year we have provided an additional £300,000 to cover transitional set-up costs, this is being met from within existing resources. The costs of some aspects of the court’s operation, including security, remain to be finalised and so the anticipated running costs will continue to be refined and reviewed on an ongoing basis.