On Monday and Tuesday of this week 10 of the 11 justices were sitting when the Court, for the first time, dealt with two appeals simultaneously.  The missing Justice was the President of the Court, Lord Phillips.  He is on a visit to the United States.  The Washington Briefs blog reports that he met with the justices and attended Wednesday’s argument. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. acknowledged Lord Phillips’ presence in the courtroom before the argument began.  Thank you to Lawrence Hurley for drawing this to our attention.

The argument was in the foreign sovereign immunity case of Samantar v. Yousuf.  The Court considered whether a foreign state’s immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act extends to an individual acting in his official capacity on behalf of a foreign state and, if so, whether an individual who is no longer an official of a foreign state at the time suit is filed retains immunity. A preview of the case on ScotUS Blog can be found here.  In accordance with the US practice (and that of ScotUS Blog) a lot of information is already available about the hearing.  A transcript can be found here and an analysis of the day’s arguments here.

Meanwhile, back at Middlesex Guildhall, Lords Rodger, Mance and Kerr heard the oral application for permission to appeal in the case of Patmalniece v Secretary of State for Work and Pensons. Permission to appeal was given (our earlier statement that it was refused was not correct).

Finally, we must draw attention to the remarkable timetable in the case of W (Children). As we pointed out in our Case Preview this case has moved extremely quickly –

30 November 2009 – first instance judgment

21 December 2009 Court of Appeal hearing

9 February 2010 Court of Appeal judgment ([2010] EWCA Civ 57) on 9 February 2010.

17 February 2010 Supreme Court gave permission to appeal

1 and 2 March 2010  – Supreme Court hearing

This extraordinary timetable was completed yesterday, 3 March 2010 by the Supreme Court giving judgment ([2010] UKSC 12) – a unanimous 35 paragraph judgment allowing the appeal, produced in less than 24 hours.  This is all because the “fact finding hearing” in relation to child abuse is taking place next Monday.   The period of just over 13 weeks from first instance to third instance judgment is the shortest that we are aware of and is a tribute to all involved.