The Olympics are officially over, the cold and wet weather is settling in and the days are getting darker.  Yet as the summer draws to a close, the UKSC Blog team is eagerly awaiting the start of the Michaelmas Term, and the beginning of the Supreme Court’s fourth year.

The new term, which starts this Monday and runs until Friday 21 December, will see Lord Neuberger sworn in as the new President of the Supreme Court with Lord Dyson stepping into his shoes as Master of the Rolls.  It is not yet known who will replace Lord Dyson on the Supreme Court bench. Whoever it is, he/she and the other 11 justices have a busy term ahead of them and here are some of the hearings to look out for:

Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill 2012 – Reference by the Attorney General for England and Wales (9 – 11 October 2012):We are now quite used to Scottish and Northern Ireland devolution cases passing through the court rooms at Middlesex Guildhall. However, this case will be the first time the Supreme Court has addressed the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales. The Attorney General is seeking confirmation of whether parts of Bill concerning the passing of byelaws are within assembly powers.

British Airways plc (Appellant) v Mak and others (Respondents) (16 October 2012): There are several employment cases being heard this term in the Supreme Court; this one considers the question of the Employment Tribunal’s jurisdiction over complaints of racial and age discrimination brought by BA cabin crew.  In order to determine the ET’s jurisdiction, the Supreme Court will consider the proper construction of provisions in the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Age Regulations 2006 concerning whether employment is to be regarded as “being at an establishment in Great Britain”.

X (Appellant) v Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau and another (Respondents) (31 October – 1 November 2012): The Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether an EC Directive concerning equal treatment in employment and occupation applies to volunteers and, if so, whether its provisions have direct effect between private parties. The volunteer, X, has been unsuccessful at the ET, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in arguing disability discrimination after she was asked not to return to her voluntary position at the CAB after she informed them that she was HIV positive. Given the large number of volunteers in the UK, if the appeal is successful this is likely to impact charities and other not-for-profit organisations that rely heavily on the services of volunteers.

R (on the application of Prudential plc and another) (Appellants) v Special Commissioners of Income Tax and another (Respondents) (6 – 9 November 2012): The scope of legal professional privilege (“LPP”) will come under scrutiny when the Supreme Court is asked to determine if communications between a client and its non-legal advisors are protected from disclosure by LPP where those advisors are providing legal advice.  A judicial review application was brought by Prudential after the Special Commissioner upheld HMRC’s argument that legal advice on tax from Prudential’s accountants was not covered by LPP.  If the appeal is dismissed, the sometimes blurry line between tax lawyers and accountants may harden.  This case is also likely to affect other non-legal professionals who sometimes provide legal advice.

Imperial Tobacco Limited (Appellant) v The Lord Advocate (Respondent) (Scotland) (12 – 15 November): The term would not be complete without at least one Scottish devolution case; in this case the Supreme Court will consider whether the prohibition of tobacco displays and vending machines falls within the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament. Imperial Tobacco, the Appellant, has unsuccessfully argued in the Court of Session and the Inner House of the Court of Session that such prohibitions are outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

The Financial Services Authority (Respondent) v Sinaloa Gold plc and others (Respondents) and Barclays Bank plc (Appellant) (12 – 14 December): This is the second of two cases to which the FSA is a party this term.  This case looks at costs in the context of freezing injunctions and whether the FSA should generally be required to give a cross-undertaking in damages above and beyond the costs incurred by third parties affected by a freezing injunction made under its law enforcement powers. Barclays is appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision that in such circumstances the FSA is not required to give an undertaking to third parties for losses caused.  The Court of Appeal overturned the first instance judgment – whether or not that is restored will affect the protection banks are afforded when in receipt of injunctions from the FSA.

All this term’s cases are due to be heard by a five-justice bench except for In the Matter of J (Children), which is down to be heard by a seven-justice bench from 17 – 19 December. There are as yet no details available regarding this hearing but a case preview will be published as and when such details become available. 

Before we forget about last term, we still await judgment in a few cases, including the following:

R v Varma, on the issue of whether the Crown Court has the power to make a confiscation order against a defendant following conviction for an offence if he or she receives an absolute or conditional discharge for that offence (see the UKSC Blog case preview by Matthew Ryder QC here).

The Catholic Child Welfare Society and Others v Various Claimants and The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, on the issue of whether the Institute, being the defendants in this case, were vicariously liable for acts of sexual and physical abuse committed by its members who were working at a Christian school (see the UKSC Blog case preview by Blog Editor Anthony Fairclough here).

The full case table for the Michaelmas Term 2012 can be found here.