Report on the Legislative Consent Motion to allow the inclusion of Amendments to Court Rule-Making Procedures in the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

Committee: Justice

Session: 2013/2014

Date: Thursday, 12 September 2013

Reference: NIA 111/11-15

ISBN: Only available online

Together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report, Minutes of Evidence, and Written Submissions

Powers

The Committee for Justice is a Statutory Departmental Committee established in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Belfast Agreement, section 29 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and under Standing Order 46.

The Committee has power to:

  • Consider and advise on Departmental budgets and annual plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
  • Consider relevant subordinate legislation and take the Committee stage of primary legislation;
  • Call for persons and papers;
  • Initiate inquires and make reports; and
  • Consider and advise on any matters brought to the Committee by the Minister of Justice.

Background

1. Court Rules are made in a variety of different ways with some Rules being subject to the negative resolution procedure while others, such as County Court and Magistrates’ Court Rules, are currently not subject to any Assembly procedure.

2. The previous Justice Committee, during its consideration of the Justice Bill 2010 (now the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011), sought further information on the background and rationale for some Court Rules such as the County Court Rules and Magistrates’ Courts Rules not being subject to any formal Assembly procedure (although they could be scrutinised by the Committee).

3. The Committee noted that the reason for the varying approaches to scrutiny appeared to be largely historical rather than due to logic or principle and was of the view that a change to the position to make all Rules subject to negative resolution procedure, which would require amendments in primary legislation, was logical and consistent. The Committee therefore wrote to the Minister of Justice regarding harmonising court rule making procedures so that the same level of scrutiny would apply to all court rules.

4. The Minister of Justice agreed with the Committee’s position and undertook to make the necessary changes to primary legislation at the next available opportunity.

5. In March 2013 the Department of Justice provided information on several options for making the necessary legislative changes, one of which would require a Legislative Consent Motion.

Download full report here.

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