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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004


4.The Act has 23 sections and 4 Schedules:

  • The sections relating to the judiciary (sections 1-5) provide for the Judicial Appointments Commission (“the Commission”) for Northern Ireland to be established prior to devolution of responsibility for criminal justice matters. The sections make provision to apply the time limits on membership which currently apply to lay members of the Commission to judicial members of the Commission. Provision is also made for the Commission to engage in a programme of action aimed at securing a judiciary in Northern Ireland that is reflective of the community. Judicial appointments will continue to be made on the basis of merit.

  • These sections also provide that the composition of the Commission itself taken as a whole will, as far as possible, be reflective of the community in Northern Ireland. In addition, the sections provide that in respect of appointments of the Lord Chief Justice and Lords Justices of Appeal, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister acting jointly will make recommendations to the Prime Minister prior to him making recommendations to Her Majesty The Queen. Finally, the requirement for the Lord Chief Justice’s agreement to removal or suspension as a result of a Tribunal recommendation is removed, and provision is made for him to be consulted instead.

  • The sections relating to prosecutors (sections 6 and 7) place a duty on the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to refer any matter to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in which it is suspected that a police officer may have committed a criminal offence or in the course of an investigation behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. They also create an offence of seeking to influence a prosecutor with the intention of perverting the course of justice.

  • The sections on criminal justice organisations (sections 8 and 9) provide that specified organisations in Northern Ireland should, in carrying out their functions, have regard to human rights guidance published by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland. Changes are made to existing legislation which are consequential to the establishment of the Youth Justice Agency.

  • The sections on bail (10-11) create a right of appeal for the prosecution against the grant of bail by a magistrates’ court, create new provisions in relation to those granted bail under the Terrorism Act 2000 (c. 11) (scheduled cases) and adjust current bail provisions on bail under the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I.2003/1247 (N.I.13)) (non-scheduled cases) to bring both into alignment.

  • Section 13 provides for the transfer of prisoners from Northern Ireland to another part of the United Kingdom in the interests of maintaining security or good order in prisons in Northern Ireland.

  • Section 14 amends section 103 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (c.11) to afford a greater level of protection to those working in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

  • Section 15 makes driving whilst disqualified an arrestable offence.

  • Section 16 re-enacts with amendments sections 79 to 81 of the 2002 Act, setting out in more detail the powers of court security officers.

  • Section 17 abolishes any rule of law which prevents a barrister from entering into a contract for the provision of his services.

  • Sections 18-23 make supplementary provisions, including the commencement arrangements, provisions for the exercise of order-making powers under the Act and the extent of the Act.

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