Judicial functions of the House of Lords

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Law of England and Wales

This article is part of the series:
Courts of England and Wales

The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's jurisdiction was essentially limited to the hearing of appeals from the lower courts. Appeals were technically not to the House of Lords, but rather to the Queen-in-Parliament. By constitutional convention, only those lords who were legally qualified (Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, or Law Lords) heard the appeals, since World War II usually in what was known as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords[1][2] rather than in the chamber of the House.

During the 20th and early 21st centuries, the judicial functions were gradually removed. The final trial of a peer in the House of Lords was in 1935, and in 1948, the use of special courts for trials of peers were abolished. In 2009 the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom assumed the functions as the new court of final resort in the UK.




Historical development

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