All UKSC (and Privy Council) judgments are published and can be read and downloaded for free. So why do Justices read parts of them aloud, as you can see on UKSC's official YouTube channel? I'd certainly think that lawyers can read for themselves! Are they intended for the illiterate?

As you can also see, very few people attend these declamations, barring the landmark cases.

  • 1
    With video recordings, it's not clear how many people actually attend. Watching the video recording of it is kind of analogous to attending remotely. Since you watched the video recording, essentially you "attended" as well.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 8:28
  • Just want to note this is sometimes done in the US too
    – user36183
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


Because it’s the default

The law requires:


  1. A judgment may be—

(a) delivered in open court; or

(b) if the Court so directs, promulgated by the Registrar

  • Thanks. Follow-up question then: Why does the UKSC Rules require this?
    – user89
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 5:58
  • 1
    @Greek-Area51Proposal politics; which is to say “why is the law X” is a political question not a legal one
    – Dale M
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 18:16
  • Isn't legislative intent on-topic? law.meta.stackexchange.com/a/717/89
    – user89
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 21:29
  • Sure, but this is a codification if common law court procedures which developed organically over 1,000 years - it’s unlikely you will find specific legislative intent.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 22:31

Usually at the beginning of the video the judge giving the leading judgment states that its for archival purposes.

Historically their judgments would normally be given orally. So the fact that they provide a written judgment is an "add on" to what is normal


Why do UK Supreme Court Justices read aloud their judgments?

To add to Dale M's answer:

It's not just the Supreme Court that must read out judgements: all courts that pass sentence as required to do so. This is a legal requirement under s.52 of the Sentencing Act 2020 to ensure the defendant, victims and general public know what has been decided and why, and what the punishment is:

(1) A court passing sentence on an offender has the duties in subsections (2) and (3).

(2) The court must state in open court, in ordinary language and in general terms, the court's reasons for deciding on the sentence.

(3) The court must explain to the offender in ordinary language—

  • (a) the effect of the sentence,

  • (b) the effects of non-compliance with any order that the offender is required to comply with and that forms part of the sentence,

  • (c) any power of the court to vary or review any order that forms part of the sentence, and

  • (d) the effects of failure to pay a fine, if the sentence consists of or includes a fine.

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