Search Legislation

Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002


41.The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was created by the Prosecution of Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1972. That Order gives the Director of Public Prosecutions an overview of all prosecutions in Northern Ireland. The Director has a role in ensuring that all prosecutions are carried out properly and he can take over prosecutions being conducted by any other individual or agency. Article 5(1)(c) of that Order provides that the Director shall, where he thinks proper, initiate and undertake on behalf of the Crown proceedings for indictable offences (tried in the Crown Court) and for any summary offence or class of summary offence that he considers should be dealt with by him. The remainder of summary offences are prosecuted by police officers, usually in the magistrates’ courts.

42.Under Article 3(2) of the Prosecution of Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 the Director operates under the superintendence and direction of the Attorney General in all matters and he is responsible to the Attorney for the performance of his functions. The Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 provides that the Attorney General for England and Wales is also Attorney General for Northern Ireland and the Director’s line of accountability has therefore been to the Attorney General at Westminster.

43.This Part of the Act implements the recommendations in Chapter 4 of the Review, establishing a Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and providing for the appointment of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland after the devolution of justice functions. After devolution, the Attorney General for England and Wales will hold the new post of Advocate General for Northern Ireland. This Westminster figure will be responsible for matters relating to prosecutions that are not within the competence of the devolved administration, for example matters relating to national security and international relations.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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