International judicial relations

The approach taken

The judiciary aims to approach its engagement with other judiciaries in a way that is sustainable and strategic, working in appropriate partnership and following the direction for international activity as agreed by the Judicial Executive Board. Activity is centred on our principal aim to strengthen the Rule of Law globally and we are focused on maintaining and promoting the strong worldwide reputation of our judiciary and courts and working to maintain and build networks that help us deliver those messages, which we think are so vital, about the importance of a robust and fair justice system and the independence of the judiciary.

These aims encompass those originally set out in 2005 by Lord Woolf, then Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales:

  • To establish links with other judiciaries in the EU or member states of the Council of Europe, with a view to facilitating co-operation and understanding on matters of mutual interest;
  • To participate in the work of international associations or bodies of judges, and international conferences, so far as appropriate;
  • To have bilateral exchanges with the jurisdictions with whom the UK judiciary has or wishes to have close links;
  • To participate in such projects on law reform or judicial administration, whether in the UK, EU or elsewhere, or such projects for the promotion of English law, as the Lord Chief Justice thinks it appropriate to support;
  • To provide support for the judiciary in developing countries.

Despite the great benefits of international engagement, it is important to note that priority must necessarily be given to our work in court. The resources of time and money available to be spent on international work are limited and thus requests for support are unavoidably subjected to careful scrutiny.

Leadership judges

There are several judges with key leadership responsibilities for international work:

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Chancellor of the High Court, reports on international issues to the Judicial Executive Board to ensure the Board is well-sighted and able to contribute to strategic decisions. Sir Geoffrey also oversees judicial issues directly related to EU departure and work to promote understanding of the UK’s legal system.

Lord Justice Gross is the Lead Judge for International Relations, overseeing international work on a day-to-day basis, and can be considered the first point of contact, through the Judicial Office, for judges from other jurisdictions.

Other judges with specific areas of responsibility and oversight:

Lady Justice Arden – Supranational bilateral meetings

Lord Justice Hamblen – Europe

Lord Justice Moylan – Family Justice

Upper Tribunal Judge Gleeson – Tribunals

Mr Justice Robin Knowles J – Judicial Training, The Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts (SIFoCC)

Mr Justice Picken – European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary, International Association of Judges, European Association of Judges

Contact with these judges should be made through the International Team of the Judicial Office

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