A GDL student, Anita Davies, has won this year’s Times Law Awards essay competition on Supreme Court UK: radical change or business as usual? The Times reports that the winners were chosen from nearly 300 entries by a panel from One Essex Court, and a judging panel consisting of Justice Secretary Jack Straw; Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the President of the Supreme Court; Lord Grabiner; James Harding, Editor of The Times, and David Cavender, QC, of One Essex Court. Praising Ms Davies’ winning entry, Jack Straw said that it was “an engaging, erudite piece of prose”.

The winning essay, New café, jaunty carpet with Supreme Court attached, can be read here.

Davies argues that the “media obsession with the Supreme Court’s soft furnishings is indicative of the uneasy relationship between the British people and formal constitutional theory”. She challenges the idea that the establishment of the UK Supreme Court is merely “business as usual”. To do this she highlights the chain of cases ending in Factortame (“it is clear that European Union law takes precedence over parliamentary statute”), the Human Rights Act (“requires that all legislation should be given effect in a manner compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights”), and the fox hunting ban case, Jackson v AG (“judges have been increasingly assertive in recognising the possibility that there may be times when it is valid for the courts to challenge Parliament”). She feels that the Supreme Court “will drag constitutional and legal debate further into the public arena”.

The second-placed entry is Ian Higgins’ We tend to assume that our unwritten constitution could weather any crisis.

And third place was awarded to Ian McFarlane’s It is clear from existing jurisprudence that the highest court in the land has been self-confidently assertive for some time.