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The Supreme Court of the U.K. is the court of last resort to Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as England and Wales. But until the Supreme Court, the jurisdictions have very different laws and legal systems. I would guess that most of the Supreme Court rise to their positions through the ranks of the English and Welsh judiciary, and are thus significantly better versed and better qualified in the law of England and Wales, and it would be quite a feat upon promotion to undertake a further legal education in an entirely new system of laws and procedures.

If my guess is correct, then how do they deal with Irish and Scottish appeals with the degrees of proficiency that one would expect of the highest court in a land?

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The UK Supreme Court was set up under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Section 27(8) mandates

In making selections for the appointment of judges of the Court the commission must ensure that between them the judges will have knowledge of, and experience of practice in, the law of each part of the United Kingdom.

It appears that selection is made by a commission, who pass the names of their selected candidates to the Prime Minister. Only the Prime Minister can recommend their appointment, and he can only recommend people selected by the commission. However, there are also Regulations under section 27A which impose further conditions and safeguards. On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the justices are actually appointed by the King.

The twelve Justices of the Supreme Court are currently:

  • President of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon The Lord Reed of Allermuir (S)
  • Deputy President of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Hodge (S)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Lloyd-Jones (W)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Briggs of Westbourne (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Sales (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Hamblen of Kersey (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Leggatt (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Burrows (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Stephens of Creevyloughgare (NI)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lady Rose of Colmworth (E)
  • Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Richards of Camberwell (E)

Of those, the two most senior are Scottish; one is Welsh; one is experienced in Northern Ireland and eight in England. Their full biographies are available.

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