I usually sit in court if one of my Justices (Lord Hughes and Lord Toulson) is on the panel. Two or three Judicial Assistants sit in on each case and these are typically cases on which our Justices are presiding.

The hearing in R (on the application of Evans) v Her Majesty’s Attorney-General and another (Case Preview) begins this morning. The case involves whether certain letters sent by Prince Charles to government ministers should be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or otherwise. Even though I haven’t been assigned to it, the case is of particular interest and Lord Hughes is on the panel so I decide to go along. Before the hearing, which starts at 11am, I go in to Lord Hughes’ office and we discuss the stronger and weaker elements of both parties’ cases. I subsequently have a more colourful conversation with the other Judicial Assistants, who have taken a keen interest, about which parties’ legal analysis should be preferred and which way we think the Justices will decide. 

We take our seats behind the Justices’ bench just before 11am. We listen to the compelling advocacy of both parties’ counsel. The Treasury Devil smarts at being implicitly referred to as one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters by his learned “friend”. Despite our initial inclinations as to the right result, the arguments on both sides are forceful.


I am not involved in a hearing today so I work on finishing my weekly bench memo. This involves summarising a permission to appeal application that the Court has received. Our bench memos will be the first thing the Justices read when they are delving into the applications and gives them an immediate idea of what the case is about. Ideally we get matched up with a case in which we have some knowledge/ interest. This is not always possible; at least I now have some experience of tax and IP cases.

In the afternoon I attempt to get my creative juices flowing by helping to draft a speech for Lord Toulson for a lecture that he is giving in a couple of weeks. This usually involves researching an area on which I have little/no knowledge with the aim of ending up with something that is simultaneously novel, understandable, interesting and legal – not a simple task. Inevitably, someone brings in a cake for a birthday/ other celebration/ no ostensible reason at all which makes my afternoon’s work more manageable, albeit not easier.


The Court is handing down judgment in Michael and others v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and another (Case Comment) at 9:45am, the main issue in which was whether the police owe a duty of care in negligence in certain circumstances to those who call 999. Last week I was given the task of writing the press summary as the lead judgment is written by one of my Justices, Lord Toulson. The idea of the press summary is to distil the essentials of the decision onto two pages so that it is more accessible to interested readers and journalists who may not have the time to read the full judgment. I sit in the row behind the Justices’ bench as Lord Toulson delivers his judgment. The judgment receives significant media coverage and within a couple of hours, I am being asked by the communications team to provide more technical detail about the judgment to help answer questions that journalists have been asking about the case.

I have been assigned to the hearing in Beghal v Director of Public Prosecutions (Case Preview) which starts today. It is a fascinating case focusing on whether Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (permitting the interrogation and detention of individuals, without requiring suspicion, at ports and borders for the purposes of countering terrorism) violates Articles 5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

At the end of the hearing, the Justices have a closed meeting to discuss their thoughts and to decide who will be writing the lead judgment. Afterwards, I go to Lord Hughes and we argue about what the right answer is on several issues. Lord Hughes sends me away to do a research note on one of them.


Lord Toulson has previously given me several permission to appeal applications to read into. In the morning I go to his office and we discuss whether they involve an arguable point of law and are of general public importance.  Later that day, I attend a meeting of three Justices where they are deciding whether to give permission to appeal in eight different cases.

In the afternoon I knock on Lord Hughes’ door. He is in the course of writing a draft judgment and has asked me for my thoughts on it. I suggest a few areas that might be worth alteration or expansion.


There are no hearings on Fridays which means that some of the Justices work from home. This gives the Judicial Assistants some flexibility to work from home depending on the nature of their work.

I spend the morning reading into Privy Council case of Hunte and another v The State, a miscarriage of justice case from Trinidad and Tobago that is starting next week.

At lunchtime I join the staff who play football at a nearby indoor pitch. Having appealed to his sense of athleticism, Lord Neuberger has agreed to come. He rarely dissents.

NB – these events occurred as described during the period November 2014 – February 2015, though not necessarily in the same week.