Activism and Restraint within the UK Supreme Court

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This article provides evidence for the extent to which the UK Supreme Court as a body - and Supreme Court Justices as individuals - have displayed an activist or restrained attitude to their decision-making role. Taking October 2009 as the starting point (when the UKSC came into existence) the article surveys the degree to which the Court and individual Justices have (1) departed from precedents, (2) interpreted legislation in unanticipated ways, (3) rejected the government's position on matters of social, economic or foreign policy, and (4) developed the common law. The article concludes that, while the Supreme Court as a whole remains as conservative as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords which preceded it (with the possible exception of its approach to immigration law), there are notable differences between the attitudes of individual Justices, one or two of whom appear to be straining at the leash.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Current Legal Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Supreme Court
  • judicial activism
  • judicial restraint


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