February 23, 2024

What is a privy council agent?

Posted in Employment

This is probably not a question many people ask because they won’t come across them very often. In January RWK Goodman represented a well-known foreign jurisdiction as agents in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in relation to two appeals from their Supreme Court. One was a civil matter, the other a criminal. So what is it that privy council agents do in relation to such diverse matters?

The answer is that we act as agent for clients from foreign jurisdictions in preparation of appeals in the Judicial Committee from the inception of the notice of appeal or application for permission to appeal, right up to the hearing of the case before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. We prepare cases, liaise with Counsel and clients, and also with our opponents and the Registry at the Judicial Committee. We facilitate all the processes and procedures required to ensure that the case gets to its appeal hearing in first class shape to be heard by the Justices.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the foreign arm of the Supreme Court and is used by a number of foreign jurisdictions, many of them Commonwealth or ex-Commonwealth countries where, historically, the Judicial Committee was the final arbiter of appeal from their own court system.

RWK Goodman has been representing clients and governments from foreign jurisdictions for very many years and we are well known as privy council agents in the discrete area in which agents operate. Usually the lawyers involved are experts in dispute resolution or other associated areas but also undertake privy council agent work where instructed.

The Judicial Committee system runs alongside that of the Supreme Court in the UK and operates out of the same building in Parliament Square. Like Supreme Court hearings, Judicial Committee hearings are open to the public and often students and tourists alike will sit in the public gallery for a period of time watching hearings take place. The Justices in the Judicial Committee are the same as those who sit in the Supreme Court.

Some of the hearings in which we have represented our clients have been very high profile in their country of origin and have had significant impact on the political and commercial environments in their home country. Cases will only come before the Judicial Committee if they contain a matter of public importance and/or may result in a change in the law, so the bar to having a case heard in the Judicial Committee is high.

One of the most interesting facets of being a privy council agent is the diverse cases that come across our desk. They may be appeals against convictions for murder or drug-related offences, commercial contracts, land tribunal cases, or even the occasional VAT tax case. Because our role is not to advise on the law but instead the processes by which the cases are prepared for appeal, we are equipped to take on such varied cases.

To find out more about the work of the Privy Council agent, please contact Gemma:

More articles from RWK Goodman in this area:

View more articles related to Employment and Employment