What happens if the judges of the Supreme Court are evenly split?


A rather inane point for a Thursday afternoon perhaps but the issue arises because the Supreme Court judges apparently decided to hear the Gwaze appeal with only four judges this morning after one judge was called away because of a family emergency.  The Press reports that:

If the Supreme Court appeal is evenly split between the four judges, the decision would automatically support the Crown appeal.

I think the journalist has made a mistake here.  Section 31(2) of the Supreme Court Act 2003 is clear about this point:

If the Judges are equally divided in opinion, the decision appealed from or under review is taken to be affirmed.

In other words, where the judges are evenly split the judgment below is affirmed, so the appeal is dismissed.

Incidentally, where a judge is absent the Supreme Court has a discretion whether to adjourn the hearing or to continue with the sitting (see section 30).


5 Responses to “What happens if the judges of the Supreme Court are evenly split?”

  1. stephenwhittington Says:

    The level of ignorance displayed by journalists over all judicial matters has made me very skeptical of what they write in other areas.

  2. Jonathan Says:

    I am similarly skeptical for that reason.

  3. Jesse Says:

    I think I would be sceptical rather than skeptical.

  4. stephenwhittington Says:

    I understand both to be acceptable.

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