To Assist the Court

Third Party Interventions in the UK

In recent years, UK courts have begun to allow third party interventions – applications by public bodies, private individuals or companies, or NGOs to make submissions which raise some issue of public importance.

The establishment of a Supreme Court for the UK raises a number of questions concerning such interventions, not the least of which is what is the proper role of interveners before the new Court? How should they be regulated? Are the current rules governing interventions too narrow or, as some have argued, too generous? And how far should the UK Supreme Court follow the much more expansive practice of Supreme Courts in other jurisdictions?

This report draws on JUSTICE’s experience of intervening in cases before the UK’s highest courts:

  • Part 1 looks at the third party interventions in UK courts, their development, and the procedural rules governing them.
  • Part 2 identifies key issues with the law and practice relating to third party interventions.
  • Part 3 provides a brief comparative survey of third party interventions before the Supreme Courts of other common law jurisdictions, and discusses the future role of third party interveners before the UK Supreme Court.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations – for the new UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights – which aim to ensure interventions in the public interest are not unduly restricted

The report’s annex gives details of 20 of JUSTICE’s most recent interventions in the UK courts.


Eric Metcalfe


26 October 2009

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