Veteran legal journalist and blogger Joshua Rozenberg has drawn attention on his blog to the confusion arising out of the Supreme Court’s first judgment [2009] UKSC 1.   This was first put on the website in a slightly mangled form – with various paragraphs missing, a second full version was posted later in the morning.  A third, re-edited version, has now been put on the website – removing certain references from the earlier judgment which have already been discussed both by Joshua and by us.  This version, although dated 14 October 2009 was not, in fact, created until 12.55 on 15 October 2009.

It appears that someone had second thoughts and has re-edited the judgment.  None of this is explained on the Supreme Court website.

Joshua points out that the second version is available on this blog.  However, although it has been done without explanation we can only infer that the Court wishes to withdraw this version and we have, therefore, done the same.  Our links are now to version 3: [2009] UKSC 1 (rev)  

Even version 3 has a slight inaccuracy in that it suggests that Christopher McCrudden was junior to Ben Jaffey for the United Synagogue whereas in fact Mr McCrudden is instructed in the case (but did not actually attend on this application) as the second junior for the school, along with Lord Pannick QC leading and Peter Oldham.

We are sympathetic to the “teething troubles” at the new court – particularly in relation to the electronic Case Management system which is operated by an outside contractor.  However, we do think that transparency is important and that if judgments are edited after their initial publication this should be made clear.  At present, there are three different versions of [2009] UKSC 1 in circulation – depending on when the case was printed out or downloaded.   It needs to be clear on the face of the document which is the definitive version.

It may also be prudent for the Supreme Court in future to adopt the usual practice of the lower courts of circulating draft judgments to counsel for the parties prior to formally handing down.

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