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Constitutional Reform Act 2005

Continued judicial independence

Section 4: Guarantee of continued judicial independence: Northern Ireland

18.Section 4 substitutes a new section 1 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 to ensure that the provision made by that Act in relation to Northern Ireland is consistent with the provision made in section 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act.

19.Section 1 of the 2002 Act, which has not yet been commenced, already contains provision designed to place those with responsibility for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland under a duty to uphold the continued independence of the judiciary. The new section 1 specifies and extends the range of persons upon whom the duty is imposed. Under the new section, the First Minister, the deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland Ministers and anyone with responsibility for the judiciary or the administration of justice specific to Northern Ireland, will be subject to the duty to uphold judicial independence. The new section will also provide that in upholding judicial independence, Ministers must not seek to interfere with particular judicial decisions through any special access to the judiciary. The duties imposed by section 1 have UK wide territorial extent and include the judiciary throughout the United Kingdom.

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