'A British Empire Court' - A Brief Appraisal of the History of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
28 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 12, 2010
In the early twentieth century the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council acted as the final appellate court for most of the territories of the British Empire. Its area of jurisdiction has gradually declined since the conclusion of the Second World War. This paper offers a brief and accessible appraisal of a number of general themes within the history of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It assesses the claim that this court acted as a safeguard for minority communities within the constituent parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth. This article also examines many of the practical objections raised against the Privy Council appeal by its opponents, including the issues of expense and delay. It also examines the assertion that the Privy Council was not suited to act as a final court of appeal on the grounds that it was an out-dated institution that was out of touch with local values and conditions in the various parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth. This article questions the validity of many of these grounds for criticism and argues that they were often used to conceal other reasons for desiring the abolition of the appeal to the Privy Council. The conclusion assesses the future prospects of this most unusual court.
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