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Based on extensive interviews with the Law Lords and the counsel who appear most frequently before them, this work represents a major advance on the existing literature on appellate judicial decision-making in the common law world.
It contains the first published account of the 'behind the scenes' aspects of decision-making in the House of Lords, focusing in particular on the period between the hearing of an appeal and the handing down of the judgements several months later. The book also provides the most definitive account yet published of the causes and events leading up to the Law Lords' decision in 1966 that they would no longer be bound by their own previous decisions.
The Law Lords begins by identifying the groups and individuals which Law Lords have in mind as audiences when writing their judgements and continues by scrutinising the impact on the outcome of appeals of the oral and written exchanges which take place between counsel and Law Lord and between the Law Lords themselves during appeals.
In brief, the book asserts that decision-making in the House of Lords should be seen not as five judges working independently of each other but as a collective process involving interchanges between counsel (and, indirectly, legal scholars) and Law Lords as well as between the Law Lords themselves. In his account of judicial decision-making the author draws on role analysis to illustrate the conflicting perceptions held by the Law Lords and counsel as to each other's roles.
The remaining chapters demonstrate how the limits and perceived legitimacy of judicial law-making and the role of the Law Lord as a decision-maker has changed (in part as a result of the efforts of Lord Reid) in the past thirty years.