Courts in the United Kingdom


Chris Hanretty


January 1, 2020


Courts in the United Kingdom have evolved gradually over the past seven hundred years. The modern court system is sophisticated, dis- playing both specialisation by area of law and regional differentiation. Courts display moderate to high levels of de facto judicial indepen- dence without many guarantees of de jure judicial independence. Appointment to the courts system is now very strongly apolitical; this, coupled with a weak form of fundamental rights review, means that debates about judicial politics have been limited. Despite this, UK courts offer lessons for those interested in the introduction of rights catalogues and in theories of constitutional review.


The version accepted by the publisher is available here. The (gated) version of record is available here.

Replication data

This is a review article, with no original quantitative data.


Hanretty, Chris. 2020. “Courts in the United Kingdom.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press.