Litigation in the UK Supreme Court: Collecting and Exploring the Data


The aims of this project are twofold:

(1) to construct a dataset on litigation before the highest UK court with minimum copyright and licensing issues and:

(2) to explore the dataset in order to show what empirical research is possible by using only the data made available directly by the government (including the courts).

I thus discuss at greater length than it is customary in academic work the practical aspects of constructing the dataset (2.1-2.2), as well as the current limitations of the dataset (2.3). I try to do so without being unnecessarily technical as I hope that this work may serve as an introduction to some of the possibilities made available by access to open data about the law.

This paper includes several ranking lists (by number of cases before the Supreme Court) of:

• counsel (top 50 in 3.2.1; all counsel in the Appendix),

• barristers’ chambers (3.2.2),

• instructing solicitors (organisations) (3.2.3).

What I learned so far from the data (preliminary findings):

• Only 21 out of the top 125 counsel (ranked by number of Supreme Court appearances), and only two in top 10, are women (3.1.1).

• Only 20% of all women counsel who appeared before the Supreme Court led teams of lawyers, compared to 39% of all men (3.1.3).

• Data suggest that women advocates at the top of the profession are not less likely to appear in the Supreme Court, it’s just that there are fewer women at the top of the profession than men (3.1.1).

• There seems to be no trend over time to the gender ratio of counsel appearing before the Supreme Court (3.1.2).

• When women lead teams of counsel in the Supreme Court, they are more likely than men to have at least one junior woman on their team (3.1.4).

Barczentewicz, Mikolaj, Litigation in the UK Supreme Court: Collecting and Exploring the Data (November 18, 2019).

Available from the SSRN site.

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