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Northern Ireland : legal resources: Law reform

An introduction to Northern Ireland Law
Subjects: Law

The Attorney General

The current post of Attorney General was created in April 2010, with the devolution of justice responsibilities.  The Attorney General is the chief legal adviser to the devolved government, and is the 'guardian of the rule of law'.  Among his other responsibilities the Attorney General is able to refer any legislation to the Supreme Court if there is any doubt that it was made ultra vires.

Human Rights Commission & Law Commission in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a national human rights institution with A status accreditation from the UN. NIHRC is funded by United Kingdom government, but is an independent public body that operates in full accordance with the UN Paris Principles.

Established on the basis of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, it has "a critical role in supporting a society that, as it rebuilds following conflict, respects and upholds human rights standards and responsibilities. Human rights values and standards need to be at the heart of our society if we are to achieve well-being, peace and justice."

The NI Law Commission was set up in 2007 in order to keep the law of Northern Ireland under review and to make recommendations for change, with the aim of making sure the law is "as simple, accessible , fair, modern and cost-effective as possible". 
It is required to work with the Law Commission of England and Wales, the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Reform Commission of the Republic of Ireland. 
The Commission must submit programmes of reform to the Department of Justice, and the DoJ must consult the Attorney General for Northern Ireland (see left) before approving such programmes.  It is for the Department of Justice and the NI Administration to decide whether to accept the Commission's recommendations and introduce any Bills to the Assembly.

The Law Commission programmes are available via the website.  Projects began with a scoping paper, followed by a consultation paper.  After analysis of the public responses to the consultation a Report with recommendations, and on occasion draft legislation, was published and presented to the Department of Justice.

 

Criminal Justice