Search Legislation

The Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988

What Version

 Help about what version

Opening Options

 Help about opening options


This is the original version (as it was originally made).

Accused to be called upon to give evidence at trial

4.—(1) At the trial of any person (other than a child) for an offence paragraphs (2) to (7) apply unless—

(a)the accused’s guilt is not in issue; or

(b)it appears to the court that the physical or mental condition of the accused makes it undesirable for him to be called upon to give evidence;

but paragraph (2) does not apply if, before any evidence is called for the defence, the accused or counsel or a solicitor representing him informs the court that the accused will give evidence.

(2) Before any evidence is called for the defence, the court—

(a)shall tell the accused that he will be called upon by the court to give evidence in his own defence; and

(b)shall tell him in ordinary language what the effect of this Article will be if—

(i)when so called upon, he refuses to be sworn;

(ii)having been sworn, without good cause he refuses to answer any question;

and thereupon the court shall call upon the accused to give evidence.

(3) If the accused—

(a)after being called upon by the court to give evidence in pursuance of this Article, or after he or counsel or a solicitor representing him has informed the court that he will give evidence, refuses to be sworn; or

(b)having been sworn, without good cause refuses to answer any question,paragraph (4) applies.

(4) The court or jury, in determining whether the accused is guilty of the offence charged, may—

(a)draw such inferences from the refusal as appear proper;

(b)on the basis of such inferences, treat the refusal as, or as capable of amounting to, corroboration of any evidence given against the accused in relation to which the refusal is material.

(5) This Article does not render the accused compellable to give evidence on his own behalf, and he shall accordingly not be guilty of contempt of court by reason of a refusal to be sworn.

(6) For the purposes of this Article a person who, having been sworn, refuses to answer any question shall be taken to do so without good cause unless—

(a)he is entitled to refuse to answer the question by virtue of any statutory provision, or on the ground of privilege; or

(b)the court in the exercise of its general discretion excuses him from answering it.

(7) Where the age of any person is material for the purposes of paragraph (1), his age shall for those purposes be taken to be that which appears to the court to be his age.

(8) This Article applies—

(a)in relation to proceedings on indictment for an offence, only if the person charged with the offence is arraigned on or after the commencement of this Article;

(b)in relation to proceedings in a magistrates' court, only if the time when the court begins to receive evidence in the proceedings falls after that commencement.

(9) Where the accused gives evidence in pursuance of this Article, section 3 of the Criminal Evidence Act (Northern Ireland 1923)(1) (right of reply) shall have effect as if he had given evidence in pursuance of that Act.

(10) In section 1 of the Criminal Evidence Act (Northern Ireland) 1923—

(a)proviso (a) and in proviso (b) the words “of any person charged with an offence, or” are repealed;

(b)in provisos (d) to (g), references to that Act shall be construed as including references to this Order.

Back to top


Print Options


Legislation is available in different versions:

Latest Available (revised):The latest available updated version of the legislation incorporating changes made by subsequent legislation and applied by our editorial team. Changes we have not yet applied to the text, can be found in the ‘Changes to Legislation’ area.

Original (As Enacted or Made):The original version of the legislation as it stood when it was enacted or made. No changes have been applied to the text.


Opening Options

Different options to open legislation in order to view more content on screen at once


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources