The Privy Council is the final court of appeal for many current and former Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies that have retained the right to appeal to Her Majesty in Council.
Whether relating to civil or criminal matters, appeals to the Privy Council are sophisticated, legally complex and often high-profile. They will always have an international element, must be made on a point of law of general public importance and conducted according to detailed rules of procedure that need to be followed to the letter.
Drawing on over forty years of knowledge and experience practising this highly specialised area of law, we are one of the very few firms in the UK that have full expertise in conducting appeals before the Privy Council. Our technical excellence is a second to none and we are committed to providing our clients with the very best service. We are also transparent about the costs involved and the litigation funding options available.
The Jurisdiction of the Privy Council Judicial Committee
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council consists predominantly of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and senior Commonwealth judges and hears all types of case including civil, criminal, constitutional and international. Privy Council rulings have been made in many jurisdictions with a diverse range of laws. These include Roman-Dutch law from South Africa, British Guyana and Salome; pre-revolutionary French law from Quebec; tribal law from Africa; the Napoleonic code from Mauritius; old Sardinian law from Malta; Norman law from the Channel Islands and acts of the Oireachtas from the Irish Free State. The Judicial Committee is regarded as the final court of appeal and will usually have the power to reverse the decision of the referring court.
United Kingdom Appeals
The Judicial Committee hears domestic appeals to Her Majesty in Council from the Church Commissioners; the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons; the Church Commissioners, the Chancery Court of York; the Arches Court of Canterbury and the Chancery Court of York; Prize Courts; the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports; the High Court of Chivalry and disputes under the House of Commons Disqualification Act. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, devolution cases from the regions of the United Kingdom are now heard by The Supreme Court.
Appeals from Crown Dependencies
The Privy Council hears appeals from the Crown Dependencies, i.e., Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man.
Appeals from Commonwealth Countries
The Privy Council hears appeals from several Commonwealth nations: Antigua and Barbuda; The Bahamas; British Indian Ocean Territory; the Cook Islands and Niue; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Grenada; Jamaica; St Christopher and Nevis; Saint Lucia and Tuvalu.
Appeal to the Judicial Committee also lies in the independent republics of Trinidad and Tobago, Kiribati and Mauritius.
Appeals from Overseas Territories
The Judicial Committee hears appeals from the overseas territories of the United Kingdom. These are Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; the Turks and Caicos Islands; the Pitcairn Islands and Montserrat.
Appeals from Sovereign Bases
Appeals will be heard from the sovereign bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus. The Courts apply Sovereign Base Area law as opposed to military law or English law and deal with both criminal and civil cases. Sovereign Base Area law is very closely aligned with the current laws of the Republic of Cyprus.
Appeals to Local Heads of State
In civil cases, an appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal of Brunei. These will be heard by agreement between Her Majesty, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, and the opinion is reported to the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan instead of to Her Majesty.
Bringing an Appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
To bring an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, you need to be granted leave by the court whose decision is being appealed or by grant of the Judicial Committee. If you seek permission to appeal from the Judicial Committee, this is often done without a hearing, based on papers prepared by your legal team. It is therefore vital to get these drafted right. Occasionally permission to appeal hearings are held, when directed by the Judicial Committee. Again, getting the right legal representation is essential.
In civil cases, if the Judicial Committee is satisfied that your case raises a point of general public importance you ordinarily be granted permission to appeal. In criminal cases, the Judicial Committee will grant you the right to appeal where there is a risk that a serious miscarriage of justice has occurred.
The Judicial Committee is based in London where the vast majority of its cases are heard. Occasionally, however, the Judicial Committee is invited to consider an appeal in the jurisdiction the case originated.
The Privy Council is located alongside The Supreme Court on Parliament Square, a short walk from our offices.
Our Privy Council Experience
We have vast experience running Privy Council appeals, regularly acting for litigants in respect of both civil and criminal matters. Using our exceptional expertise to quickly get to the heart of the case, we always work decisively and in a cost-effective manner. Our Privy Council appeal works includes:
- A successful appeal on behalf of a solicitor based in the Isle of Man, resulting in her convictions for money laundering and falsifying documents being quashed
- An appeal against conviction for attempted murder from Bermuda, which clarified and strengthened curbs on the use of experts in Caribbean criminal trials
Partners James Saunders and Matthew Purcell lead our team of highly skilled Privy Council lawyers and Privy Council solicitors, who are supported by expert civil solicitors and criminal litigation solicitors, all of whom work at the exceptionally high-level Privy Council appeals require. We have also forged close working relationships with barristers who specialise in conducting these types of appeals.
Privy Council appeals have strict procedural rules – right down to the presentation of papers and the fonts used in court documents. Making sure your appeal is properly presented is vital as the Registry which handles the case management and procedural aspect of Privy Council appeals, can reject documents and even derail appeals, if these procedural rules are not followed. For these reasons, we have deep working relationships with reprographics and document processing businesses in London, to ensure all the presentational requirements of a Privy Council Appeal are met to the letter.
Saunders Law - Specialist Privy Council Appeal Agents
At Saunders Law, our Privy Council lawyers have an excellent reputation for their high-profile work and dedication to protecting the rights of clients from current and former Commonwealth countries and the United Kingdom’s overseas territories.
Operating from offices in the heart of London’s legal district, just a short walk from the Privy Council, we’re also ideally located for conducting Privy Council appeals. For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how we may be able to help, please contact us.