We welcome back Miranda Butler after a year as a Judicial Assistant

We are pleased to welcome back Miranda Butler from her year as a Judicial Assistant to Lord Kerr JSC. Miranda has written about her experience at the Supreme Court below.

If you wish to instruct Miranda please contact the clerks on 0207 415 7800.

A year in the UK Supreme Court

‘Black spider’ letters, terrorists and the benefit cap all featured during my time as the Judicial Assistant to Lord Kerr JSC at the Supreme Court. The Court recruits annually for seven Judicial Assistants, all of whom have to be qualified lawyers, to work closely with either one or two of the Supreme Court Justices (the most senior four Justices are allotted a single Judicial Assistant while the more junior members of the Court are obliged to share). Judicial Assistants work closely with their appointed Justice; sitting with them in court, doing legal research, helping with applications for permission to appeal and writing extra-judicial speeches. Above all, the Judicial Assistant’s role is to be a legally-trained sounding board, discussing cases and points of law with the judges and helping them formulate their judgments.

I was allocated to Lord Kerr, the sole Justice from Northern Ireland. Lord Kerr called to the Bar in Northern Ireland, where he took silk at the astonishingly young age of 35 and went on to the Lord Chief Justice before being appointed to the House of Lords. He is famous for his frequent dissents and my year with him was no exception. Amongst others, he dissented on R (Carlile) v Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, arguing that the exclusion of a dissident Iranian politician invited to speak to Parliamentarians was unlawful and in Behgal v DPP that the power under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act to stop, question and detain individuals at ports and borders was not lawful on the basis of its potential for arbitrary or discriminatory use. He stirred up great debate in the legal world by holding in his dissenting judgment on the benefit cap in R (SG) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that unincorporated human rights treaties should have direct effect in law. However, he was firmly in the majority on R (Evans) v Attorney General in ordering the disclosure of Prince Charles’ letters to the government. Despite being ferociously intelligent and hardworking, Lord Kerr was always extremely kind and easy to approach, even in disagreement. It was a real pleasure as well as a great privilege to work with him.

The Judicial Assistant Scheme is a unique opportunity for young lawyers to be exposed to some of the brightest minds and most interesting cases in the legal profession today. As well as being a fantastic professional opportunity, it is a very enjoyable year and I have come out of it with seven firm friends. Applications usually open in February and I would highly recommend anyone who is interested to apply.

Miranda Butler
Judicial Assistant 2014-2015