Date: 12 September 2013
Reference: NIA 111/11-15
nia-111-11-15.pdf (767.62 kb)
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.