Farewell to Their Lordships


Courtesy of my friend and partner, Subrata Bhattacharjee, today is the last sitting of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords (you can watch the feed here. So farewell to a court that has provided a vast range of legal judgments from Attwood v. Small in 1838, through Rylands and Fletcher, through M’ALISTER or DONOGHUE (Pauper) v. STEVENSON. In October, a Supreme Court will start sitting to hear appellate matters.

In this Guest Week on Media and Entertainment law at Slaw, it only seems fitting that they’ll spend part of the last day on pop songs:

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is placed high in lists of the greatest songs of all time. Procol Harum’s record in May 1967 was an instant smash hit. Sales ran into millions. The musically literate judge, who tried this case, knew it. He held that the song had achieved cult status. There are over 770 versions of it. The introductory bars are used as mobile phone ring tones. The melody would even strike a chord with an unworldly judge in its echoes of JS Bach, Wachet Auf and the second movement of his Keyboard Concerto No 5 in F Minor.

Who wrote the music? Who owns the copyright? These are the questions in the case.

Final House of Lords judicial business

The final appeal hearings and last ever judgments by the Law Lords take place in the Lords Chamber. You can watch the final, unique proceedings on ParliamentLive.

30 July: appeal hearings

Joint appeal hearings from 10.30am and 2pm on the right of appeal against the Home Office’s refusal to revoke a deportation order from within the UK:

30 July: House of Lords judgments

From 4.30pm, the Law Lords give the last ever judgments of the House of Lords in seven cases on points of law:

  • concerning a duty owed by auditors: Moore Stephens (a firm) (Respondents) v Stone Rolls Limited (in liquidation) (Appellants)
  • concerning a term in a contract of reinsurance: Lexington Insurance Company (Respondents) v AGF Insurance Limited (Appellants) and one other action and Lexington Insurance Company (Respondents) v Wasa Insurance Company Limited (Appellants) and one other action
  • on a claim for authorship and copyright in Procul Harum’s song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’: Fisher (Original Appellant and Cross-respondent) v Brooker and others (Original Respondents and Cross-appellants)
  • on interpretation of the test for capacity to consent or to refuse a sexual touching: R v Cooper (Respondent) (On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))
  • on the power to make orders against foreign directors for the examination of foreign assets: Masri (Respondent) v Consolidated Contractors International Company SAL and others and another (Appellant) another
  • on compensation for compulsory acquisition of land under the Land
    Compensation Act 1961
    : Transport for London (London Underground Limited) (Appellants) v Spirerose Limited (in administration) (Respondents)
  • concerning clarification as to whether the husband of a sufferer of incurable, progressive multiple sclerosis would be prosecuted should he help his wife to die: R (on the application of Purdy) (Appellant) v Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent)

What’s happening?

Further information


  1. And the day had numerous echoes:

    Lord Justice Mance went on YouTube to explain the changes ahead with the new Supreme Court.

    The Guardian saw the last day as Bagehot’s revenge.

    The Indy gave us a nice potted history of the court as did the Politics blog

    And Matthew Fisher will finally get a share of royalties from Procul Harum. Apparently a 38 year delay doesn’t count as laches. IPKitten has a good summary of the decision.

    It’s time to skip the light fandango.