Court Adjourned! Behind the Scenes at the Supreme Court
01 Monday Jun 2015
Last month the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom opened its doors to ticket holders for a night ‘behind the scenes’ at the Court, accompanied by interesting talks, a theatrical performance and some fine wines.
Luke Hughes, one of the UK’s foremost furniture designers, talked about the transformation of the Middlesex Guildhall, a Grade II* listed building, into the home to the Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. His talks were held in Court 2 and the law library, where he addressed the rationale behind the designs as well as the challenge of renovating the building for its new purpose whilst protecting its architectural legacy – interspersed with some witty and amusing anecdotes.
The law library: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of density; whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”
The Lawyers’ Suite on the first floor hosted two Q&A sessions: the first panel comprised the Court’s Librarian, Court Usher and Education Officer, who revealed what goes on behind the scenes. The second session saw a number of former Judicial Assistants discuss their experiences of working for the Justices as well as talking about what they went on to do afterwards. Two ‘a day in the life’ accounts by current Judicial Assistants were recently posted on the UKSC Blog and can be viewed here and here.
In Court 3, Jim Dimond, a freelance painting conservator and restorer with over 28 years’ experience, talked about the conservation of the Earl of Northumberland by Sir Joshua Reynolds (pictured) and other paintings from the Middlesex Art Collection, which he helped restore in 2003. Jim talked in depth about the painstaking process of removing layers of dirt and varnish, which had amassed over hundreds of years; this certainly gave an appreciation of the time and effort which had gone into the restorations.
Upstairs, the Inner Temple Drama Society, which is student-led, performed an original piece, “The Jury Room”, adapted from the 1957 classic, “12 Angry Men”. The society performed the piece twice during the course of the evening and it proved very popular, with Court 1 filling up some five or ten minutes before the start on both occasions.
For those who wanted to sit down and enjoy the surroundings, there was the opportunity to have a drink in the lobby bar whilst listening to some jazz standards performed by musicians from the Royal College of Music.
This sold-out event was certainly enjoyed by all, including those who were at the Court for the first time as well as those who were a bit more familiar with their surroundings. Indeed, if one had their eyes peeled, one would have seen Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, amongst those in attendance!