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Judges and politics: the parliamentary contributions of the Law Lords 1876-2009

O'Brien, Patrick (2016) Judges and politics: the parliamentary contributions of the Law Lords 1876-2009. Modern Law Review, 79 (5). pp. 786-812. ISSN 0026-7961

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-2230.12215


There is a common perception that, prior to the exclusion of serving judges from the House of Lords in 2009, a ‘politics convention’ operated which required judges to avoid party-political controversy and ensured that they contributed to debate only rarely. On this view, the presence of the Law Lords in parliament prior to 2009 presented a judicial independence and separation of powers problem in theory only. An examination of the contributions of serving Law Lords and other judicial peers to debates in the House of Lords from 1876–2009 (and retired judges from 1876–2015) reveals that the convention either did not exist or was frequently ignored. While most judges were infrequent participants in parliamentary debate, some were enthusiastic – a small number among the most active parliamentarians in the Lords. The most active judicial peers were conservative in their politics and the best predictor that a judge would be active in the House was an association with conservative politics or causes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2016 10:15
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:19

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