Supreme Court justice dismisses ‘overblown’ criticism of ‘judicial activism’

Lord Lloyd-Jones

The dangers of “judicial activism” have been “greatly exaggerated”, according to Lord Lloyd-Jones, a justice of the UK Supreme Court.

Speaking to France’s Conseil d’Etat, the senior judge addressed the extent to which judges should develop the common law in line with general principles of law and justice, and the extent to which they should defer to Parliament.

Lord Lloyd-Jones said: “Some academic critics complain of ‘judicial overreach’ which ‘increasingly threatens the rule of law and effective, democratic government’.

“There are, no doubts, limits to the judicial function in this regard, although they are difficult to formulate with any precision.

“It does seem to me, however, that recent criticism in this regard of the conduct of the judiciary in our jurisdiction has been considerably overblown and the dangers of judicial activism greatly exaggerated.”

The speech, published in full on the UK Supreme Court website, focussed on general principles of law as a source of international law.