Justices appear ‘virtually’ during Supreme Court swearing-in ceremony

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By Thomas Connelly on

Lord Justice Leggatt joins top bench amid pandemic lockdown

Lord Leggatt

The Supreme Court’s special swearing-in ceremony came with a technological twist this afternoon, with the justices attending via video-link amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Lord Justice Leggatt joined the UK’s top bench today in a “closed ceremony” held in the court’s historic library. Those attending the ceremony in-person were kept to “an absolute minimum”, the court said, and all justices, expect for the court’s president, Lord Reed, took part “virtually”.

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which established the Supreme Court, requires that a new justice take the required oaths in the presence of the president. Leggatt is due to take up his new role tomorrow (22 April), so his swearing-in could not be delayed.

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On Tuesday, Lord Leggatt was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court in a special ceremony held in the library of the Supreme Court building. • Such ceremonies normally take place in Courtroom 1 and are attended by all the Justices and the new judge’s family and friends. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday’s ceremony was much smaller. • Lord Leggatt recited the judicial oath in the presence of the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed (as is a statutory requirement), whilst the other Justices watched remotely. Here are some photos from the ceremony. A video will be available soon. • Lord Leggatt got straight to work and sat on his first #virtual Supreme Court case yesterday. • Congratulations Lord Leggatt and welcome to the Supreme Court! • A ceremony of the usual kind will be held when circumstances allow, at which time Lord Leggatt can renew the oaths he took earlier this week.

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Swearing-in ceremonies traditionally take place in courtroom one and are attended by all justices, as well as by the family and friends of their new bench mate. The Supreme Court confirmed a full ceremony will be held for Leggatt “when circumstances allow”.

Leggatt studied philosophy at King’s College, Cambridge, before attending Harvard University. He worked as lawyer in the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell and later joined London’s Brick Court Chambers. The commercial law specialist was appointed a High Court judge in 2012 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2018. He replaces Lord Carnwath, who retired on 6 March 2020.

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