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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

Overview

8.The Act has 6 parts and 13 Schedules.

  • Part 1 (The Judiciary) provides that those with responsibility for the administration of justice must guarantee the continuing independence of the judiciary. It provides for a Judicial Appointments Commission to select people to be appointed, or recommended for appointment, to specified judicial offices (listed in Schedule 1) and for people to be removed from those offices only following a recommendation by a tribunal. These provisions will be brought into force after devolution. Part 1 also contains the provisions to establish the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary in Northern Ireland. These provisions will be brought into force after devolution. In addition, Part 1 amends the eligibility criteria for judicial office and requires all new appointees to the offices listed in Schedule 6 to take a new oath. These provisions will be brought into force before devolution of justice functions. Finally, Part 1 provides for the creation of the office of lay magistrate. These provisions may be brought into force either before or after devolution.

  • Part 2 (Law Officers and Public Prosecution Service) provides for the appointment by the First Minister and deputy First Minister of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and the creation of a Westminster-based Advocate General for Northern Ireland. This change will be brought into effect on or after the devolution of justice functions to the Northern Ireland Assembly. It also establishes a new Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland.

  • Part 3 (Other new institutions) establishes a Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland and a Northern Ireland Law Commission.

  • Part 4 (Youth Justice) sets out the aims of the youth justice system and makes a number of amendments to existing legislation so as to provide for the Review’s proposals on juvenile and restorative justice.

  • Part 5 (Miscellaneous) sets out arrangements for the display of the Royal Arms and the flying of flags at courthouses; makes provision in relation to the rights of victims of crimes; makes provision in relation to community safety; empowers the Lord Chancellor to direct that exceptional legal aid be available; empowers the Lord Chancellor to abolish the Northern Ireland Court Service and to transfer its functions; requires the Northern Ireland Court Service to provide security in courts; and implements recommendations of the Civil Justice Reform Group which was established by the Lord Chancellor to review civil justice procedures in Northern Ireland and which issued its final report in June 2000.

  • Part 6 (Supplementary) sets out the commencement arrangements, provisions for the exercise of order-making powers under the Act and the extent of the Act. It also places limitations on the ability of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate in some of the areas covered by the Act.

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