Applications to become the United Kingdom’s twelfth Supreme Court justice closed almost a month ago and the selection panel, chaired by court President Lord Phillips, is presumably weighing up the pros and cons of the applicants. Here at UKSC Blog we have a keen interest in the outcome, and so to gauge the state of play, I asked William Hill to give me the odds on the likely candidates.

It appears, however, that the race hasn’t gripped the nation in the same way as The X Factor, The Turner Prize, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year or the Glastonbury Specials 2010, because unlike all of those, William Hill aren’t offering odds. As Joshua Rozenberg recently mentioned in the Law Society Gazette, this contrasts with the interest and betting that the nominations for the US Supreme Court generate. OK, Joshua Rozenberg didn’t mention gambling, but just look at what US blog Oddjack said about the 2005 race.

However, William Hill were kind enough to offer me a one-off special offer of £10 at 10-1 on whomever I fancied. So who should I put the Blog’s money on?

The safe money has to be on a Court of Appeal judge. The Times recently picked out Lords Justices Carnwath, Dyson, Rix, Laws and Sedley as possibles. Certainly, it’s been suggested that Carnwath, Dyson and Rix were all in the frame for the Master of the Rolls position recently taken by Lord Neuberger. However, whilst they are all highly regarded, they are also all from the civil side rather than the criminal side of the profession: Carnwath practised at planning set Landmark Chambers, Dyson was at construction set Keating and then 39 Essex Street and Rix had a pure commercial practice.

Perhaps another basis for selection might be to make the court’s membership more diverse? But if Lord Phillips is looking toward the 40 or so Court of Appeal judges, he’ll be pressed to find a candidate from an ethnic minority (there aren’t any) or who is openly gay (just the one, only recently made up). He could, however, give the gender balance a small nudge towards parity and appoint a woman to double the female membership (currently just Lady Hale). Lady Justice Mary Arden is looks like a good bet: interestingly, last week she gave a well received public lecture (see our blog here) in which the Supreme Court got some prominent mentions.

So what about looking elsewhere? As Marcel Berlins pointed out in the Guardian, the lawyer who has been ahead of the pack all the way along as far as speculation is concerned is Brick Court’s Head of Chambers Jonathan Sumption QC. “Brain the size of a planet”, “star of his generation”… the epithets roll off the pages. But again, choosing a clever commercial lawyer, or even an extraordinarily clever commercial lawyer, might be seen as further reinforcing the Court’s in an area where it is already strong.

How about some blue-sky thinking? We don’t know whether they have applied but a few candidates spring to mind. Lord David Pannick QC: Just as many accolades as Sumption, the undisputed of master of the public law which takes up a large proportion of the Supreme Court’s business and already a peer to boot. Or a litigator with some real management credentials: David Gold, senior partner of Herbert Smith springs to mind. Or perhaps someone who has managed to combine a leading practice at the bar, and served as Attorney General, and working for a US law firm: Lord Peter Henry Goldsmith, PC, QC, please step forward.

After all of that, I’m stil not sure where UKSC Blog’s £10 would be best spent. If you have any tips, please let us know …

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