Looking back three years, to the early months of 2006 when this project was first conceived, we have ruefully to confess that our initial feelings of excitement and enthusiasm may then have been clouded by the merest modicum of anxiety. While we ourselves were wholly convinced that this valedictory tribute to the judicial work of the House of Lords was a wholly fitting and worthwhile enterprise, would others—on whom the success of such an undertaking would ultimately depend—share our conviction? We knew that if the job was worth doing it had to be done well; in fact, very well indeed. This would have to be a top-quality product, covering every (or almost every) aspect of the appellate function, and this would require us to recruit a high-class team of distinguished contributors—judges, practitioners, academics, and other top professionals—all of them busy and important people, able, between them, to cover all the angles. Was this really possible?
As we began, cautiously, to make our initial soundings, our anxieties on this score were quickly laid to rest. Well aware that our plans would make no headway at all without judicial backing, we decided at the outset to consult Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the Senior Law Lord—scheduled to retire from judicial office just before the appellate functions of the House of Lords were to pass to the new Supreme Court but still, throughout the period of this book’s gestation, a very active and most distinguished presence at the top of the judicial tree. To our great pleasure and gratitude, he took no persuading of the merits of the project and has been an enormous source of wise and friendly advice and behind-the-scenes support throughout—and subsequently agreed to contribute a chapter to this volume. His name merits a very high place in the long list of those to whom the editors are deeply indebted.
Then there are our contributors—41 of them in total. When we began to approach people to write chapters for this collection, we were greatly heartened by the fact that almost everyone we asked not only said yes, but did so with little or no visible hesitation and indeed, invariably, with warm expressions of support and goodwill. In total, quite remarkably, we had only three or four refusals, in all cases with manifest regret. What is more, everyone who did accept our invitation delivered their contributions as requested and (almost) everyone did so on time without, we hope, undue nagging on our part. Editorial requests and suggestions were duly taken on board. This book is the sum of their contributions and we thank them both for the substance of those contributions and for their friendly cooperation—without which our editorial burden would have been so very much heavier.
We also thank, very warmly, Sharon Witherspoon and the Trustees of the Nuffield Foundation, who supported the project with a Small Grant; also Royal (p.vi) Holloway, University of London, which administered that grant. Our publisher, Oxford University Press—in particular Rebecca Smith and her successor Chris Champion—supported us from the outset and turned our manuscript into a most attractive volume. Public Administration International very kindly allowed us to use their Central London premises for several of our editorial meetings. We also gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Ronagh McQuigg, of Queen’s University Belfast, who painstakingly researched and drafted the ‘pen portraits’ of all the Lords of Appeal since 1876 and Terence McCleave, also of Queen’s, who gave valuable assistance with the Table of Cases.
We end with a very special thank you to Ruth Massey. Ruth was a key member of the editorial team from the outset, recruited as our editorial manager, to keep the project moving, to liaise with contributors, and to keep the editors on their toes. She did all these things with delightful charm and impressive efficiency. Ian Aitkenhead ably supported her in her role, as well as acting as a valued research assistant to one of the editors. We are very grateful to them both.
We end with the customary (but no less valid for that) absolution, that those we have acknowledged share the responsibility for the content of their own contributions, but it is the editors who must take full responsibility for the book as a whole, and the blame for any errors or omissions.