The End of an Era for the House of Lords
Since 1876 the House of Lords has served both as the court of last resort and the upper house of Parliament. In response to concerns for separation of powers, the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005 put an end to the judicial role of the House of Lords effective today, July 31, 2009. Marko Milanovic has an interesting post on the final days of the House of Lords sitting as the final court of appeal in England and Wales:
Yesterday the House of Lords delivered its last judgments as the final court of appeal in England and Wales. For many, many, many years (as with all thing English), the House of Lords had a dual function, sitting as both a part of the legislature and the judiciary. From 1 October this year, the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will be sitting on Parliament Square, comprised of twelve current Lords of Appeal in the Ordinary.
In parting, one could only say that if some of the other European states (you know who they are) had a judicial system that was even only half as effective as is the English judiciary, and the House of Lords in particular, in the protection of individual rights under the Human Rights Act … then the case load of the Strasbourg Court would not be as unmanageable…. Nor would, for that matter, the Court itself be the bloated, bureaucratic, basically almost entirely Registry-run institution that it is today.