Supreme Court prepares for revamp as three justice positions become available

The UK Supreme Court is on the hunt for three new justices with Lord Dyson becoming Master of the Rolls (MR) earlier this year and Lords Walker and Hope preparing to retire in 2013.

It will be the first time three roles have been available so close together and the selection commission has decided simultaneous appointments are the most efficient process.

Dyson SCJ succeeded Lord Neuberger in the MR role after the latter was elevated to Supreme Court president in September (29 August 2012).

The judicial shake-up comes two and half years after Dyson SCJ took up his position on the Supreme Court bench, becoming the final justice in the court’s original line-up (23 March 2010). The Supreme Court was established in 2009 to replace the appellate committee of the House of Lords.

Once the three new justices are in place, the court is expecting a period of stability until Neuberger SCJ’s retirement in 2018.

Justices must have been a qualifying practitioner for at least 15 years or have held a high judicial office for at least two years, such as in the High Court or Court of Appeal.

The current salary for a Supreme Court justice is £206,857 and a judge must retire at 70, unless they were appointed a judge before a change in legislation in March 1995, when the retirement age was 75.

The closing date for applications is 30 October. Although there is no set timeline for interviews, the first new justice to replace Dyson SCJ should be announced by the start of 2013.

Criteria for the positions dictates the “deepest level of judicial knowledge and understanding, combined with the highest intellectual capacity” as the new justices will be dealing with the most complex cases in the UK.

As well as academic excellence, candidates will also have to demonstrate “social awareness and understanding of the contemporary world”.

It is not anticipated that the court will make another shock appointment after last year elevating Brick Court silk Jonathan Sumption QC directly to the Supreme Court bench (4 May 2011).

Lord Walker retires on 17 March 2013 and current deputy president Lord Hope retires on 27 June 2013.