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The Supreme Court Annual Report and Accounts 2015–2016


Section three

Section three Performance Report: Communication and external relations 49 Marking 800 years of Magna Carta The 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede provided a particular focus for a number of education and outreach projects over the course of 2015. A facsimile of the iconic document is engraved on to the doors of the Justices’ Library, reflecting the centrality of some of the concepts understood to be crystallised in the charter. Extra-judicial lectures A number of Justices spoke in some detail on the enduring significance of Magna Carta over the course of the year, including Lord Neuberger at Lincoln’s Inn in May and Guildford Cathedral in June, Lady Hale giving the US Supreme Court Historical Society’s Annual Lecture in Washington D.C. in June and a separate lecture at Gray’s Inn in October, and Lord Sumption at the Friends of the British Library AGM in March and at the Franco-British Council Conference in June. All of these speeches are available on the UKSC website. Chartered Voyage: the impact of Magna Carta The Supreme Court’s primary contribution to the anniversary was a special exhibition held during the summer recess, made possibly by financial support from the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee. The exhibition explored the legal impact of Magna Carta in 1215 and beyond, focusing particularly on UK jurisdictions. The exhibition’s richly illustrated panels explained how the legal significance of Magna Carta developed over time and was used by the courts to protect fundamental freedoms, as well as to inspire emerging nations to place the rule of law at the heart of their written constitutions. The exhibition was opened formally by HRH The Duke of Kent and HRH Princess Alexandra at the end of July 2015. The centrepiece of the exhibition was one of the later reissues of Magna Carta, sealed by Edward I in 1300, on loan by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. HRH Princess Alexandra signs the Court's visitor book, watched by Lady Hale and Jenny Rowe Supreme Court Annual Report 2015–2016 Supreme Court Annual Report 2015–2016

50 Section three Performance Report: Communication and external relations Alongside the copy of an original Magna Carta, visitors could see a rare copy of the first unabridged English language edition of the charter. George Ferrers’ translation, first published in 1534, was corrected and reprinted in 1542, and a copy of that publication was generously lent to the Court by the library of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh. Activities for younger visitors were available, along with an animated film produced by the Guy Fox History Project, to encourage children to engage with the exhibition material. Approximately 20,000 people visited the Court while the exhibition was on display. Feedback surveys suggested that 95% thought the exhibition was ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ and eight out of ten visitors also felt more informed about the Supreme Court’s work after visiting the exhibition. Around one third of visitors were from the UK, one third from the rest of Europe and the final third from elsewhere. School debate days The Court also hosted a series of Debate Days during September 2015 to run alongside the exhibition. Four sessions were arranged for classes of Year 12/13 students studying law and/or politics, including groups from Bury St Edmunds and Southend-on-Sea. Contemporary exemplification of the Charter Another permanent legacy of the year is the commissioning of a hand-illustrated exemplification of Magna Carta, in English, using authentic materials such as vellum and natural inks. This stunning document, laboriously crafted over six sheets to include the coats of arms of each of the barons party to the 1215 treaty, was commissioned by the Crown Office, with additional financial support from the City of London, the Ministry of Justice, and the Supreme Court. It is now on display in the Supreme Court’s permanent exhibition space, and souvenir reproductions can be purchased from our café. Mock trial of the Magna Carta barons On 31 July, 800 people witnessed a mock trial where three judges – Lord Neuberger, Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court, and Dame Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New Zealand – heard submissions from two senior barristers on whether King John's actions in the run-up to 1215 justified the terms the barons forced him During the course of these days, students learnt about the history of Magna Carta by spending time in the exhibition and have the chance to debate a legal case centred on principles associated with the document. Students also had the opportunity to meet lawyers and learn more about life in the profession. Supreme Court Annual Report 2015–2016

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