That claim you’ve seen about Supreme Court judges getting paid £175,000 by the EU is totally made up

Published: 4th Oct 2019

In brief

Claim

Nine out of the 11 judges who made the ruling on the suspension of parliament, receive stipends of £175,000+ from the EU.

Conclusion

This is not the case. Two supreme court judges are ad hoc judges for the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU. Only one of the two has come to the court, and that has only been twice in the last four years. They get paid around £444 per day for this.

 

The Supreme Court is a member of the network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU.

 

That’s correct.

Claim 1 of 2

We’ve been asked to check a claim on Facebook that nine of the Supreme Court judges (who ruled that proroguing parliament was unlawful) “receive stipends of £175,000+ from the EU”.

“9 out of the 11 justices who made the ruling on Boris Johnson’s suspension being unlawful receive stipends of £175,000+ from the EU.

Furthermore the Supreme Court itself is a member of the network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU.”

The Student Brexit Group, Facebook, 29 September 2019

We’ve seen similar claims on Twitter too.

We’ve seen no evidence that a payment of this type exists. Two of the judges work ad hoc for an institution separate to the EU—the European Court of Human Rights—but they earn nowhere near as much as £175,000 from this. The UK’s Supreme Court is a member of the network the claim mentions.

The judges are not getting £175,000+ pay cheques from the EU

Two of the Supreme Court judges (Lady Arden and Lord Reed) are ad hoc judges of the European Court of Human Rights. The Supreme Court told us Lord Carnwath and Lord Kerr had also been ad hoc judges.

The European Court of Human Rights told us ad hoc judges get paid €501 (around £444) per day they spend in court, and they are not paid for preparation days. The court added that “one of the two judges… has never actually come to the Court while the other has only been here twice in the last four years.” So it doesn’t seem plausible that this work could have earned them as much as the post claims.

It’s also crucial to point out that, as we’ve written before, the European Court of Human Rights is not part of the EU’s legal system. It is separate from the Court of Justice of the European Union, which is responsible for making sure EU member countries comply with EU laws. The European Court of Human Rights doesn’t have the same members as the EU—for example, it includes Russia.

But where did the claim come from?

Some of the tweets say the claim comes from “the Law Gazette”.

We think that stems from the claim having been made in the comments section underneath an online Law Society Gazette article on the Supreme Court decision that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful. The comment was not made within the article itself.

The Law Society Gazette’s Web Content Editor confirmed to us that such a comment—about the judges receiving a £175,000 stipend from the EU and the supreme court being a member of the network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU—was posted under the article in question, and “has since been removed”.

The Supreme Court, as an institution, is a member of an EU network for member states’ supreme courts

The UK’s Supreme Court is a member of the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union. This network is not a court in itself, but a group of the Supreme Courts of EU member states (and some observer states). They exchange ideas, discuss matters of common interest, and give their opinions to European institutions.

This article is part of our work factchecking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the judges don’t earn this money and there’s no basis for the claim.

Correction 7 October 2019

The original article incorrectly stated that Lady Arden had not been on the prorogation case. This has now been corrected.

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