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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

Section 9: Lay magistrates

28.The Review recommended that the criminal justice functions of Justices of the Peace and the office of lay panellist should be undertaken by holders of the new office of lay magistrate. This section creates the office of lay magistrate and provides for the Lord Chancellor to appoint lay magistrates to each county court division in Northern Ireland (“county court division” is defined in subsection (14)).

29.Subsection (2) provides that a person may not be appointed as a lay magistrate unless he has either completed a course of training approved by the Lord Chancellor or has undertaken in writing to attend such a course of training. Subsection (3) requires all appointees to the office of lay magistrate to complete their training within a year of appointment, unless given leave by the Lord Chancellor to take longer.

30.The Lord Chancellor can make further provision about eligibility to be appointed as a lay magistrate by regulations, including that a person may not be appointed if he is a bankrupt or lives more than a prescribed distance outside the county court division to which the appointment relates (subsections (4) and (5)). Subsection (10) provides for the Lord Chancellor to be able to remove a lay magistrate. On devolution, this provision will be repealed and lay magistrates will be removed under section 7 by the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the recommendation of a tribunal.

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