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Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

Section 39: Special measures directions in civil proceedings generally

Section 39 inserts new Articles 7H and 7I into the Civil Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 to require rules of court for civil proceedings to make specific provision for special measures for victims of specified offences.  The section sets out the provision that rules of court must make.

Paragraph (1) of new Article 7H provides that rules of court must make provision to enable a court hearing civil proceedings to make a special measures direction in relation to a party or witness (P) who is the victim, or alleged victim, of a specified offence (to be specified in regulations made by the Department of Justice).

Paragraph (2) requires such court rules to provide for the court to consider, either on the application of a party or of the court’s own motion, whether P’s evidence or (if a party) participation in the proceedings, is likely to be diminished because P is the victim, or alleged victim, of a specified offence; and if so, whether one or more special measures directions should be made.

Paragraph (3) provides that the rules may also include provision about what factors the court is to take into account when considering whether a special measures direction should be made including but not limited to the availability of the special measures in question and any views expressed by P.

Paragraph (4) provides that a person is the victim of a specified offence if another person has been convicted of, or given a caution for, the offence; and that a person is the alleged victim of a specified offence if another person has been charged with the offence.

Paragraphs (5) to (7) define various meanings for the purposes of this Article.

New Article 7I provides that the Department of Justice may make regulations to amend the definition of ‘civil proceedings’ in new Article 11H(5), a draft of which must be laid before and approved by the Assembly. It further provides regulations made (only) under new Article 11H(5) to specify offences are subject to negative resolution.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly 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 accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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