The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council acted as the court of final appeal for the colonies of the British Empire, and retains that position for UK overseas territories, Crown dependencies and countries of the Commonwealth that have retained the right of appeal. The British Library's collection of civil and criminal appeals covers colonial and domestic cases from the period 1861- 2008 and contains information relating to legal practice, commercial activities and litigants' lives.
Our collections include various primary sources for research on the Privy Council and the disputes decided within the scope of its judicial function and varied colonial and domestic jurisdictions. Among these sources is a series of volumes relating to appeal cases decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) between 1861 and 2008. The volumes contain the appellants’ and respondents’ written cases and printed records of the proceedings in courts below, together with the appeal judgment and order in council.
This series, described in our catalogue as Appeal Cases Heard Before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (PP1316), offers a rich body of material for research. The content offers insight to institutional, historical, social, political, international and cultural studies. Further, the material traces of the litigation process that the series archives also offer potential for the investigation of law in action. For examples of such investigation, see our blog posts:
- Stories from the Empire: Privy Council Cases 1917- 1920
- Stories from the Empire: Privy Council Cases 1917- 1920 (continued)
- Women of the Empire: a Privy Council case
How to consult cases in these volumes
Cases may be requested by registered readers, and will be delivered to our Social Science Reading Room at St Pancras, London. Requests for volumes should include details of the case required (see notes on arrangement below for information needed). These details are not in our catalogue but can be found in the BAILII and Privy Council Papers Online databases.
Cases decided between 1900 and 1952 can be requested using our online catalogue Explore. Please allow at least two working days' notice for delivery.
For cases decided 1861- 1899 and from 1953 onwards, please contact our Social Science Reference Service for help with ordering.
Arrangement of volumes
Cases decided 1861 to 1899. Arrangement is by judgment year and appellant surname. When requesting cases, please contact the Social Science Reference Service and give details of party names and year of Privy Council judgment. If names are not known, please give year of judgment required. Usually, we will request volumes for the entire year, and you will need to locate the case that you require once the volumes have arrived.
Cases decided 1900 to 1952. Arrangement is by judgment year and number. A single volume usually contains several cases whose judgment numbers are indicated on the spine. The volume relating to a case can be ordered on our online catalogue Explore by specifying the judgment year and number.
Cases decided 1953 to 1996. Materials are bound as they were submitted to the registrar of the court and are currently (at December 2013) being sorted. When requesting cases, please contact the Social Science Reference Service, providing details of party names, appeal year, judgment number and any evidence of case consolidation.
Cases decided after 1996. Arrangement is by judgment year and number. A single volume usually contains several cases whose judgment numbers are indicated on the spine. When requesting cases, please contact the Social Science Reference Service, providing details of judgment year and number.
Social Sciences Reference Service
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7894
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7761
E-mail: Ask the Reference Team