Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 03 December 2008

COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL

OFFICIAL REPORT

(Hansard)

Presumption of Death Bill

3 December 2008

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin (Chairperson) 
Dr Stephen Farry 
Mr Fra McCann 
Ms Jennifer McCann 
Mr Adrian McQuillan 
Mr Declan O’Loan 
Mr Ian Paisley Jnr 
Ms Dawn Purvis 
Mr Peter Weir

Witnesses:

Mr Neil Lambe ) Department of Finance and Personnel 
Mr Oswyn Paulin )

The Chairperson (Mr McLaughlin):

The purpose of the session is to recap on the issues arising from the Committee Stage of evidence and the Department’s depositions. The intention is to identify any residual issues that require clarification or resolution between now and the formal clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill, which is scheduled for next week’s meeting. Officials from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) will summarise, and outline the Department’s position on, each issue, after which members will respond. We will go through the issues one by one.

Neil Lambe is a principal legal officer in the civil law reform division of the Departmental Solicitor’s Office, and Oswyn Paulin is the departmental solicitor and head of the Government Legal Service. I welcome you back to the Committee; we are old friends by this stage.

As Hansard is recording the session, mobile telephones must be completely switched off. I invite Neil or Oswyn to take the Committee through the issues. Members may wish to ask questions or have further discussion on particular issues.

Mr Oswyn Paulin (Department of Finance and Personnel):

I hope to dispense with any introductory comments and, if the Committee is content, I will move straight to the consideration of the issues arising from the evidence sessions. As we go through the table of issues drawn up by the Committee, I will also mention, as appropriate, those clauses to which the Department intends to propose amendments. It is, therefore, a question of going through the Bill clause by clause following the table, but also introducing items on which the Department has proposals.

The Chairperson:

That is satisfactory.

Mr Paulin:

The first of several issues relating to clause 1 is jurisdictional. Concern has been expressed about the scope of the rules relating to domiciled and habitual residents. The Department is considering recommending to the Minister an additional third jurisdictional rule. Under our proposal, the High Court would have jurisdiction to hear cases in which the applicant is a close relative of a victim of violence within the meaning of the Northern Ireland (Location of Victims’ Remains) Act 1999. That, in effect, applies to the disappeared, who would have a specific entitlement and jurisdiction under that provision. An amendment along those lines would mean that the amendment suggested by Ms Purvis would not be necessary. That is an attempt to deal with the first three items on the Committee’s list.

Ms Purvis:

Will you explain that again?

Mr Paulin:

Our proposed suggestion to the Minister is that there should be a third basis for jurisdiction whereby the High Court would have jurisdiction to hear cases where the applicant is a close relative of a victim of violence within the meaning of the Northern Ireland (Location of Victims’ Remains) Act 1999, which implemented the agreement between the two Governments.

The next point relates to cohabitants, which was raised by the Human Rights Commission. For reasons that the Department has previously explained, we do not consider that the amended jurisdictional rules should address the issue of cohabitants. The legal regime that applies to cohabiting couples is under review in England and Wales, and the Department is monitoring developments there. We do not want to do something that is peculiar to this piece of legislation, because, if a general proposal for change is introduced, we may have to change that along with a lot of other pieces of legislation. It would be better to look and see what comes out of that review, and then to look at the issue again. The Act could then be amended if necessary, but there may be a recommendation for no change.

The Committee raised the next issue, which relates to sufficient interest. We have discussed the matter previously. The Committee asked how the courts interpret sufficient interest. DFP’s response of 3 October provided examples of how the courts have interpreted that phrase in other contexts, principally in nullity applications. As the Committee may know, nullity applies to the dissolution of a marriage on the basis that it is invalid. Ordinarily, people who are parties to the purported marriage would be the normal parties, but those cases gave all sorts of examples of people who were not parties to the marriage who could apply for it to be annulled. However, they must have some interest in the outcome, and those cases give examples of how sufficient interest has been examined by the court. We gave other examples from judicial review. Therefore, it is our view that the courts are familiar with the formula. It is a term that has a wide meaning, but, nonetheless, it greatly limits those applicants who can apply. It gives the courts a fair degree of discretion, but they are well used to exercising that discretion in an appropriate manner.

Dr Farry:

Given the comments that we heard earlier about the special recognition of the category of the disappeared, I wish to make a relevant point. Is it possible to write into the Bill to treat the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains as a body with sufficient interest to take a case, given that some of the relatives of the disappeared have a certain reluctance to go through that process? Is it possible for the commission to be recognised as a body with sufficient interest to initiate those proceedings? I presume that the Act would not necessarily need to be amended, because you are not actually granting a duty on the commission, but rather simply enabling it to do that in this piece of legislation?

Mr Paulin:

That is an interesting question. First, would the commission have sufficient interest to bring proceedings? Secondly, if it does not have sufficient interest, how do we change the legislation? Do we have the power to change the legislation to enable it to do so, and how would it be done?

Dr Farry:

It is, obviously, more difficult if one has to go back and amend the 1999 legislation in two different jurisdictions, but would it be possible to grant the commission that standing in this Bill?

Mr Neil Lambe (Department of Finance and Personnel):

The difficulty that we might encounter is that the Bill could say that the independent commission is to be regarded as having sufficient interest to make an application under clause 1, but unless the function of the commission as established under the Northern Ireland (Location of Victims' Remains) Act 1999 allows it to make applications to the court, then whatever we do in this Bill might not then enable the commission to make an application. What the commission can and cannot do is prescribed by its governing statute.

Mr Weir:

I understand that. None of us has the governing statute to hand. I wonder if it is possible to find out whether the commission would have that power. To return to Stephen Farry’s comment, there is absolutely no point in clearing that hurdle if we immediately run into a brick wall because the commission does not have the necessary power. Could the Committee be sent some information on that?

The Chairperson:

It would be helpful to get a quick turnaround on that information, and on any other information that we might request, because the Committee must prepare for next Wednesday’s meeting. Members would like to get a response by Monday in order to be able to prepare for that meeting..

Mr Paulin:

We could give an off-the-cuff response now if we had the legislation in front of us, but it would be better if we wrote to the Committee.

The Chairperson:

Working to Monday would be best. The response would then be authoritative, and one on which the Committee could depend for the clause-by-clause scrutiny on Wednesday. Is that OK?

Mr Paulin:

We are happy to do that.

The Chairperson:

Thank you.

Mr Paulin:

The next question is whether the period of seven years, which is mentioned in clause 1, is too long. Again, I think that we discussed that earlier. The Department believes that the periods of time set out in the Bill are appropriate at this stage. The Bill provides for a power to amend those time periods, which is set out in clause 12. That provides the Department with the necessary flexibility to respond to changes of opinion at domestic and international level.

Mr O’Loan:

Does that mean that further primary legislation would not be required in order to alter the seven-year period?

Mr Paulin:

No, it would not.

The Chairperson:

The power to amend is built into the Bill.

Dr Farry:

Richey Edwards, the guitarist from the Manic Street Preachers who disappeared seven years ago, was presumed dead only last week. It was fairly obvious that he was gone, but the family had to wait that seven-year period.

Mr Paulin:

Sorry, who?

Dr Farry:

Richey Edwards, the guitarist from the Manic Street Preachers.

Mr Paulin:

Oh, yes. Well, under this legislation, I believe, the family might have been able to declare him presumed dead a bit earlier.

Mr Lambe:

In all those cases, it depends on when the family wishes to pursue the issue and make an application to a court.

The Chairperson:

That was an interesting insight into Stephen’s back catalogue.

[ Laughter. ]

Mr Paulin:

There is a vacancy.

[ Laughter. ]

The next issue was the application process. I think it was WAVE that raised that issue. The Bill and the new court rules will endeavour to make the application process as straightforward as possible. However, all High Court proceedings necessarily involve a degree of formality in order to maintain the integrity of the court process. Dr Farry and the families raised questions as to the role that the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains may choose to play. We discussed that matter already, and we will get back to the Committee on that. That is what I intended to say about the application process, but I am happy to answer any questions.

Mr O’Loan:

Are costs addressed anywhere? What level of costs might be involved in a straightforward case, if there is such a thing?

Mr Paulin:

The amount that solicitors charge would be very much up to individual solicitors. First, the question is whether they would charge.

Solicitors and barristers will work for nothing when there is a particularly deserving case and where there is no obvious method of funding.

However, we cannot say what the cost would be because we do not know the amount of time involved or what rates would be charged. It is up to individual practitioners in private practices to decide what rates they charge.

There are no issues arising in respect of clauses 2 to 5. Clauses 6 and 7 deal with capital sums and annuities, and in our briefing to the Committee on 12 September, we indicated that we intend to table amendments to both clauses to ensure that the obligations to repay capital sums, or take out insurance in respect of the repayment of those sums, does not extend to capital sums paid out by insurers in the form of annuities or other periodical payments. That would bring the insurance provisions into line with the corresponding Scottish legislation.

Ms Purvis:

I think that the representatives from Wave Trauma Centre raised the issue of making a variation to the register — would that come in under variation orders?

Mr Paulin:

We were going to deal with that matter later, as it relates to the registration process.

The Chairperson:

OK; we can come back to that.

Mr Paulin:

We move to clause 7 and insurance costs. In an earlier briefing paper, the Department indicated that the insurance industry was unable to provide details of likely premium rates to be paid in cases where the Bill, or an insurer, imposes an obligation on a person to take out insurance to cover the possibility that the missing person may not be dead. The clarification of the treatment of annuities will reduce the instances when insurance may be required. It is important to bear in mind that the court retains the power to disapply the requirement in certain circumstances, so it is not always the case that there will be a requirement for insurance.

Clause 8 deals with supplementary provisions in court rules. The Human Rights Commission had some concerns about the advertising of notices of intention to make an application and other issues regarding who would receive notice of the making of an application under the Bill. Clause 8 makes the necessary provision to allow rules of court to prescribe who is to receive automatic notification of proceedings in respect of a missing person, as well as giving the High Court the power to dispense with the requirement to place advertisements in the local media.

Therefore, the High Court would have the power to decide whether there is a requirement for advertising in particular cases. That is the general formula in existing statutory provision in relation to declarations on family matters. Analogous litigation includes the provision for advertising but also allows the courts to have discretion about whether it is needed in particular cases.

Clause 9 relates to rules of court and the Attorney General. We do not propose to amend clause 9, but it is possible that through clause 19, which is the commencement clause, the rule-making power in clause 9(1) will come into force one month after the Bill receives Royal Assent. That will allow rules of court to be made quickly.

There are no issues arising in clause 10, and cost of proceedings has been dealt with in earlier discussions. There are no issues arising in clauses 12 to 15.

We indicated earlier that we were considering replacing the definition of “insurer” in clause 16(2) and 16(3) of the Bill with a simpler definition that is not tied to the regulatory framework, and we are making progress on that. There are no issues arising in clauses 17 and 18 and I have referred already to a possible change to clause 19, which deals with commencement provisions.

That leads us to clause 20, and I understand that there are no issues arising around that.

Schedule 1 is concerned with the regulation provisions. Previous briefing papers, which DFP provided to the Committee, addressed several issues concerning the registration powers that are available to the Registrar General under the Births and Deaths Registration ( Northern Ireland) Order 1976 and under this Bill. The evidence made it clear that the Registrar General for Northern Ireland has limited powers when death occurs, or is registered, outside Northern Ireland. His primary responsibility relates to Northern Ireland. The Department sees no need to alter the existing civil registration framework to provide for registration in Northern Ireland of vital events — which is the phraseology for births and deaths — that are recorded by the registration authorities of other countries.

In our view it would not be appropriate for the Bill to require the Registrar General to apply to the High Court for a variation order when the remains of a missing person are found and registered outside Northern Ireland.

Ms Purvis:

Who would apply for that variation order?

Mr Paulin:

We are talking about the situation in which a person is registered as presumed dead in Northern Ireland, and then their body is found outside Northern Ireland. The question is; should a variation be made to the register of presumed deaths? My understanding is that rather than a variation of the register, it should be noted on the register that that has occurred.

Ms Purvis:

How would that be done?

Mr Paulin:

That would be done by the registrar if the information comes to him. If, for example, someone writes to him, he would make the necessary enquiries.

Ms Purvis:

An organisation such as the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains could write to the Registrar General if it had reason to believe that a body had been located and registered dead in, for example, the Republic of Ireland. The Registrar General could then make a note in the register of presumed deaths.

Mr Lambe:

In schedule 1 to the Bill, the Registrar General is given the power to annotate the register. That power is not specified or limited: the schedule states that the Registrar General “may” annotate the register; it is entirely up to the Registrar General.

The Chairperson:

It is interesting that the word “may” is used, and that it is not a requirement that a note be attached to the entry.

Ms Purvis:

Being conscious of the needs of the families, I wonder whether a note, rather than the cancellation of the register, is sufficient. The families have expressed concern that they do not want their relatives to be classed as missing; they want them to be classed as disappeared.

Mr Lambe:

When a body is located, whether in the Republic of Ireland, or in France, as in the case of Anne Morgan’s brother, the death would be registered there, and a death certificate from those jurisdictions would be available to the families.

Ms Purvis:

I understand that.

Mr Lambe:

The purpose is simply for the Registrar General to annotate the entry in the register of presumed deaths — to make it clear that the entry has been superseded by the recording of the death by a registration service in another jurisdiction.

Ms Purvis:

I take your point, Chairman, on the use of the word “may”.

The Chairperson:

From the evidence we have heard, it seems to me that families prefer that the annotation should follow the locating of the remains in another jurisdiction and the issuing of a death certificate. Otherwise, the existing entry would remain.

The families are looking for assurance that on notification that a death certificate has been issued, albeit from another jurisdiction, the Registrar General would automatically attach a note and the record would be corrected. That was a particularly important issue to the families.

Mr Lambe:

It is likely that the Registrar General would do that when it is brought to his attention. If the Bill were to state that the Registrar General “must” make a note, it would be necessary to specify the triggers for that requirement. For example, should the Bill specify that it must be brought to his attention by the coronial authorities in the Republic of Ireland or by the independent commission? This is an occasion on which, if information comes to light, the Registrar General will exercise his discretion to annotate the register, and I have cleared, with the Registrar General, my understanding of how he would view the matter.

Dr Farry:

I, too, am concerned about the difference between the words “may” and “shall”, and I appreciate the difficulties that you have outlined. At some point, the Committee will consider a civil registration Bill. Could the issue be included in that legislation if the Committee flags it up now?

Mr Lambe:

Certainly, it would be a more appropriate forum in which to discuss the matter — within the general constraints in which civil registration procedures operate.

Dr Farry:

That might be a way to solve this particular problem.

The Chairperson:

I am not entirely convinced that doing so would satisfy the representation that we heard. The trigger should be as simple as possible. Some families may wish to follow the matter through to its ultimate conclusion, whereas others might not. Is it not straightforward to define the trigger as the production of a death certificate and use the word “shall” with reference to the Registrar General’s duty? The families who decide to follow through would produce a death certificate as evidence, which the Registrar General would accept as the basis for annotating the record.

Mr Paulin:

In other words, are you suggesting wording such as: on the production of a death certificate, or analogous document, from any jurisdiction in the world, an entry in the register of presumed deaths shall be cancelled by the Registrar General? We would like to reflect on that, because it may be — although I suspect that it is not the case — that registers of death in other jurisdictions include presumed deaths. That might produce the odd situation whereby a person could be presumed dead in two different jurisdictions. I am unsure as to whether one presumption could be used to cancel an entry in another jurisdiction.

The Chairperson:

Oswyn; your example goes to the furthest extreme of what I was suggesting. I am reflecting the views of the delegation to the best of my ability. It seemed to me that it was important for some of the families to resolve the issue subsequent to the recovery of the remains and the issuing of a death certificate. I got the impression that an annotation to the record would be sufficient. I might be misrepresenting the views of the families, but I believe that that would alleviate their concerns.

Mr Paulin:

I assume that annotation of the record would mean that no certificate of presumed death would be issued thereafter. In other words, the Registrar General would, if asked for a certificate —

The Chairperson:

A cancellation —

Mr Paulin:

Well, he would refuse to issue a certificate on the basis that the annotation indicated that the presumption of death, on which the entry was made, was no longer sound.

Mr Lambe:

Or that a certificate would be issued with the annotation marked on it.

The Chairperson:

We probably cannot resolve the issue today. Will you consider the matter and return to the Committee?

Mr Paulin:

We are happy to do so.

Dr Farry:

The annotation process, as it stands, does not apply exclusively to the disappeared: it applies in any situation where a person is recorded as presumed dead in Northern Ireland and when his or her body is subsequently located overseas.

Mr Paulin:

Also, the provision was sufficiently wide to include other issues that would arise, subsequent to the presumption of death being made, which show that there was an error in the entry.

No issues arose concerning schedules 2 and 3.

There are other issues that do not fall so neatly into the existing provisions. One of those was the inclusion of a separate category for the disappeared, which was requested by various organisations, including the Wave Trauma Centre. It was included in the list of issues that the Committee sent to the Department. We have attempted to address the issue in the proposed amendment earlier in the Bill as regards who may apply, giving particular status to applications falling into the category of “the disappeared”.

Dr Farry mentioned recent cases; for example, the Lisa Dorrian case. We think that it would be a matter for the Parliaments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland to legislate to include the cases of people who went missing after April 1998 in the remit of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

Dr Farry:

I accept that that is where the responsibility lies. Am I right to presume that the Dorrian family falls under the general scope of the Bill?

Mr Paulin:

Yes.

The next issue that the Committee raised was on disclosure of information and disclosure powers. The briefing papers provided by the Department explain the purpose of providing the High Court with the power to order someone who is not a party to the proceedings to disclose information to the court. Such a power should only be used when necessary, so that the High Court is able dispose of the application before it. It is not designed to enable the court to hold an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a missing person, especially in cases where there is clear evidence that the missing person is dead. For example, we do not expect the High Court to consider it necessary to order disclosure where the application concerned one of the disappeared.

We consider that a discretionary power is preferable to the imposition of a general duty of disclosure on any person with information about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a missing person. A duty of disclosure could result in the provision of large quantities of information to the court, which could in no way assist it in making a decision on an application. Our view is that that would place an unnecessary burden on those providing the information and an unnecessary burden on the court in considering that information.

Mr O’Loan:

I have raised this issue on several occasions. Would you provide, in writing, the response that you have just given, because it is not included as a departmental comment? Why is there such resistance to including what is such an obvious provision? The Bill has been heavily modelled on Scottish legislation, which — as the Committee has observed — contains this requirement, and it does not seem to cause any undue burden in Scotland.

Mr Lambe:

When looking at the Scottish legislation, I made enquiries of colleagues in the Scottish courts administration and the Scottish General Register Office to discover what information they had about the operation of their 1977 Act. They informed me that no information had ever been disclosed as a result of the duty of disclosure that is imposed by the Scottish Act. It seemed to be a redundant provision in the Scottish Act. We began to consider what form of disclosure provision might work better and might lead to disclosure of evidence or information in certain circumstances.

The consultation paper, which was published in January 2008, explained that there is a duty under the Scottish Act but that it does not seem to produce anything, because people are not aware that an application has been made to the Scottish courts. Therefore, we sought views on whether it would be better to give the High Court, when it is seized of a case before it, the power to make an order for disclosure in certain circumstances. The responses, albeit limited, to the consultation paper were that giving the High Court a power to order disclosure was preferable to imposing what amounts to a general duty on all of the world to come forward with information.

Mr O’Loan:

I wish to make a correction to that. My recollection is that there were a significant number of responses to the consultation. The judiciary, above all, said that there ought to be a duty of disclosure. I am open to being corrected on that.

Mr Paulin:

That is what we are saying. During the consultation process, we raised issue of disclosure and invited responses on it. There were a number of responses on that point saying that there should be —

Mr O’Loan:

An open duty to disclose —

Mr Paulin:

No, the judiciary’s response was fairly brief.

Mr Lambe:

I correct myself; Mr O’Loan is right.

The Chairperson:

Do you have the paperwork to confirm that?

Mr O’Loan:

Neil is confirming that I am right.

Mr Lambe:

I am confusing the situation with my subsequent thoughts on the issue. The consultation did propose a duty to disclose, but, subsequently, when considering the issue, it appeared to us that a targeted, discretionary power in the High Court would be preferable, given the fact that the Scottish duty of disclosure has not produced information to the Scottish courts.

Mr O’Loan:

I think that it will be for the Committee to reflect on what is eventually offered. Obviously, we will bear in mind the point that has just been raised about the opinions that came out of the consultation, including those of the judiciary. Northern Ireland’s particular circumstances relating to the issue of the disappeared create a situation that is distinct here.

For a court to proactively request information would require some foreknowledge or awareness someone exists who might have information. However, if there were a duty to disclose, the onus would be placed on bodies, such as the police or security services, which would be aware that proceedings were going through the courts and that they had information which they would be under a duty to disclose. The families of the disappeared have asked for that; I asked for that, and I think that that is the better approach. The duty of disclosure should be made available: that would allow us to see whether the same outcome would happen here as in Scotland.

Mr Paisley Jnr:

Are the witnesses saying that the effect of the duty of disclosure in Scotland has been nil?

Mr Lambe:

Colleagues in Scottish courts could not recall information being provided to the court on foot of a general duty of disclosure that is contained in the Scottish Act.

Mr O’Loan:

I am saying that, because of the particular circumstance in relation to the disappeared, and the long history of investigation, there could well be —

Mr Paisley Jnr:

I understand that point. However, I am interested in how effective legislation will be. If it is effective and it draws something, so be it; however, if it is a principle, that is a different matter. Has the effect in Scotland been nil?

The Chairperson:

In addition to both the broad proposition that Declan makes and the point made by Ian, are people concerned about cutting across the remit and ability of the independent commission to do its work?

Mr Paulin:

There is that. Furthermore, what is the function of the High Court in dealing with those cases? Is it to hold an inquiry into a number of deaths, or is it to provide a means by which deaths may be registered and the legal consequences of death being allowed to ensue, with respect to dissolution of —

The Chairperson:

As opposed, for example, to criminal proceedings.

Mr Paulin:

That is another matter entirely. As the Committee knows, those are reserved matters and are not for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Chairperson:

For the time being — at any rate.

Mr Paulin:

We have approached this on the basis that the court, where necessary, should have the power to order disclosure rather than hold a free-ranging inquiry.

The Chairperson:

Declan, do you want to make a particular proposal or suggestion?

Mr O’Loan:

I will express my view when the time comes — that is not what we are doing at the moment: we are just receiving evidence.

The Chairperson:

I ask the witnesses to reflect on this discussion and share any additional considerations with the Committee by Monday.

Mr O’Loan:

I will make it absolutely clear when we are presenting our views on this: I want the Committee to present the view that it will be seeking a proactive clause.

Dr Farry:

From what sample size is the conclusion being drawn that the Scottish approach is redundant? How many cases have been presented in Scotland under the Act? The legislation does not seem to have been used frequently, and I am concerned lest the conclusions being drawn are premature.

Mr Lambe:

In the past couple of years, there have been roughly five declarations of presumed death issued per year. Going back further, into the 1980s, just after the Scottish Act was brought into force, there were perhaps only two declarations issued per year. In the past couple of years, the average has been five.

Dr Farry:

I am cautious about making general assumptions and drawing conclusions from such a small number.

Mr Weir:

Against that, it has been the practice in Scotland for roughly 30 years. I appreciate the differences between Scotland and Northern Ireland, but, over that period, the annual average in Scotland has varied from two to five, which makes a total of roughly 100 cases. Is that assumption reasonable?

Mr Paulin:

We turn to the issue of the disclosure power reaching outside the United Kingdom. In a previous briefing paper, the Department explained the territorial limits on the jurisdiction of the courts in Northern Ireland to enforce orders abroad. Mechanisms exist that allow for taking evidence abroad, but those largely depend on information being disclosed on a voluntary, rather than compulsory, basis.

The Human Rights Commission raised the issue of privacy of proceedings. The Department’s written briefings for the Committee explain that the manner in which the High Court conducts cases is largely a matter for the courts. The courts in Northern Ireland are experienced in handling sensitive information and in conducting proceedings in a manner which attempts to minimise distress to applicants and others involved in a case. The court will carefully balance competing arguments in favour of privacy against the general rule that proceedings should be conducted in open court and in a transparent manner.

By allowing the court to hear all or part of any proceedings in private, the Bill gives the court the maximum flexibility to decide, on a case-by-case basis, how best to conduct the particular case before it.

Mr O’Loan:

On the issue of disclosure, will the answer that was given be provided in writing?

The Chairperson:

Yes.

Mr Paulin:

The Bill has now been covered, subject to whether the Committee has any other questions.

The Chairperson:

Are Members agreed that the matter has been covered?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

I thank Neil and Oswyn for their assistance: they will come back to us on a couple of issues. A quick turnaround would be most appreciated, as we will attempt to proceed to clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill at next week’s meeting. Thank you.

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