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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

Lord Chief Justice

Section 12: Role of the Lord Chief Justice

33.The Review recommended that the Lord Chief Justice should have a clearly defined position as head of the judiciary in Northern Ireland (para 6.141). This section states that the Lord Chief Justice is president of the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the county courts and the magistrates’ courts and head of the judges and magistrates who sit in them. Subsection (2) gives effect to Schedule 5 which transfers certain functions in relation to the operation of the courts from the Lord Chancellor to the Lord Chief Justice. Subsection (3) provides for the Lord Chancellor to amend any enactment or instrument for effecting further transfers of functions.

Sections 13-15: Presiding judges

34.The Review also recommended that each tier of the judiciary should have a representative or President in order to facilitate the co-ordination and management of court business and provide a figurehead. These sections provide for the Lord Chief Justice to appoint a Presiding county court judge, Presiding resident magistrate and Presiding lay magistrate to represent each tier of the courts. These appointees will hold their office in accordance with their terms of appointment.

Section 16: Complaints about holders of judicial office

35.This section requires the Lord Chief Justice to prepare and publish a code of practice relating to the handling of complaints against any person who holds the office of Lord Chief Justice or Lord Justice of Appeal or any of the offices listed in Schedule 1.

Section 17: Secretaries to Lord Chief Justice

36.This section removes the offices of Principal Secretary and Legal Secretary from Schedule 3 to the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (i.e. the list of statutory offices). As a consequence, appointment to these offices will not fall within the Commission's remit and the post-holders will not be required to take the judicial oath. It also provides for the Principal Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice and a person designated by the Lord Chancellor to be joint secretaries to certain court Rules Committees.

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