Supreme Court Most Commonly Refuses Permission to Appeal on Procedural Points of Law

On 6 June 2019, the Supreme Court published its Annual Report and Accounts: 2018 to 2019.[i]

Within Section 3 of this document, entitled ‘Jurisdiction and Casework’, the Court breaks down how many applications for permission to appeal (PTA) were granted (59), refused (133), or had another result (9), between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Further, the Report subdivides PTA data by subject matter (Arbitration, Banking, Charities, Companies, Competition Law, Copyright, Contract, Crime, Defamation, Devolution, Election Expenses, Employment, Environment, EU Law, Extradition, Family, Financial Services, Freedom of Information, Housing, Immigration, Insolvency, Insurance, Judicial Review, Land, Landlord & Tenant, Mental Health, Negligence, Patents, Personal injury, Planning, Procedure, Non-Domestic Rating, Shipping, Social Security, Solicitor, Tax – Corporation, Tax – VAT, Tax – Customs Duties, Tax – Gaming Duty, Tax – Information Notice, Taxation, Tort, Trade Marks and Trusts).

The most common applications for PTA were made in respect of procedural issues. 23 applications were filed, which is 35% more than Immigration Law (17), 53% more than Employment Law (15) and 109% more than Family Law (11).

Remarkably, even though there were 23 applications submitted to the Supreme Court, representing 11% of the total number (201) of PTA applications, permission was only granted in 1 Procedure case, while 3 were dealt with in another, unspecified way.

In his introduction to the Report, Chief Executive of the Supreme Court, Mark Ormerod, stated:

‘The court continues to work under increasing financial pressure, following the result of the spending review in 2015, which required us to absorb rising salary and other costs in a budget that has not increased materially since the early days of the court’s existence, in 2009-10.

We have embraced this requirement for increased efficiency and have acquitted ourselves well.

I am proud that the administration of the court continues, against this tight financial background, to provide a high-quality service to justices, litigants, their representatives and members of the public’.

It would appear, therefore, that the Supreme Court’s constricted budget is the cause of dampened enthusiasm towards applications for PTA on matters involving Procedure. The role of the Court of Appeal is arguably more important than ever before.


[i] Neil Rose ‘Supreme Court turns back on procedural appeals’ (11 June 2019 Litigation Futures)> accessed 11 June 2019.