24 July 2015
This section amends the Magistrates’ Courts (NI) Order 1981 (“the 1981 Order”) by inserting a new Article 29A. This provides that committal proceedings in a magistrates’ court shall be conducted by way of a preliminary investigation where the courts so directs, and in all other cases, shall be by way of a preliminary inquiry.
An accused may apply to the court for a direction that a preliminary investigation is to be held, and the court may grant such an application only if it is satisfied that a preliminary investigation is necessary in the interests of justice.
This section amends Article 34(2) of the 1981 Order (giving of evidence on oath at a preliminary inquiry) to provide that the prosecution or the accused may apply to the court for leave to require the giving of evidence on oath at a preliminary inquiry. Such leave will only be granted if, in the opinion of the court, this is necessary in the interests of justice.