On 1 October 2009, the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords transferred to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. This signalled the final separation of the judicial function of the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (the "Law Lords") from the UK Parliament's legislative process. The Law Lords have become the first Justices of the 12-member Supreme Court, and are therefore disqualified from sitting or voting in the House of Lords.
The Supreme Court now:
- hears appeals on arguable points of law of general public importance;
- acts as the final court of appeal in civil cases for the whole of the UK;
- acts as the final court of appeal in criminal cases for England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and
- acts as the final court of appeal for Commonwealth countries, by assuming the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Supreme Court Rules set out procedures in relation to applications for permission; commencement and preparation; and the hearing and decision of appeals to the Supreme Court. They also address the filing of documents and prescribe the Court's powers in the event that parties fail to comply with the Rules.
These new Rules apply to any appeals and petitions for leave lodged before the transition date of 1 October 2009.