BAILII (the British and Irish Legal Information Institute) provides the most comprehensive set of British and Irish primary legal materials freely available online. Its Northern Ireland case law databases include decisions of the following: Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland 1998 onwards; Crown Court for Northern Ireland 1999 onwards; High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland Chancery Division 1998 onwards; High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland Family Division 2000 onwards; High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland Queen’s Bench Division 1994, then 1996 onwards; High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland Master’s Decisions 2000, 2001 and then 2004 onwards; Fair Employment Tribunal Northern Ireland 1998, then 2001 onwards; Industrial Tribunals Northern Ireland 2002 onwards; Northern Ireland – Social Security and Child Support Commissioners 1983 and then 1988 onwards. Legislation databases include Statutes of Northern Ireland (Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly) 1920, 2000-2002 and 2007 onwards; Northern Ireland Orders in Council 1972 onwards; Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland 1989, 1993 and then 2000 onwards. Also provided (within Statutes) is the text of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the UK Act by which Ireland was partitioned in 1922, and there are some publications of the Northern Ireland Office of Law Reform for 2001 and 2002 and Law Reform Advisory Committee from 1999 and 2000.
A public inquiry, chaired by Lord MacLean, into the death of William Stephen (Billy) Wright at the Maze prison, Northern Ireland, on 27 December 1997, was announced in November 2004. The inquiry’s site, now archived by the National Archives, includes evidence, transcripts, key documents, press notices, rulings, and a link to the full text on TSO’s Official Documents site of the Inquiry’s report, published 14 September 2010.
Official site of the inquiry chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate into the events in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on Sunday 30 January 1972, which came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The site, now archived by the National Archives, has the final report, published 15 June 2010, together with extensive documentation on proceedings, including hearing transcripts, rulings, press notices and witness statements. The report is also available on the GOV.UK site.
The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland reviews all UK Parliament constituencies in Northern Ireland. Its web site includes information on the current (2018) and previous reviews, constituency maps and links to legislation.
The Care Tribunal was established under the Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 to hear appeals against decisions relating to the regulation of care services and to the employment and registration of social workers in Northern Ireland. Information on its web site includes a guide to the appeals process and procedures, links to legislation, and published decisions to date.
The Commissioner regulates the process by which many of the public appointments in Northern Ireland are made. The post was created in 1995 in response to the publication of the Nolan Committee’s first report on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850). Publications on the site include annual reports 2000/2001 onwards, a code of practice, a complaints leaflet and other guidance.
The CAJ is an organisation campaigning for human rights and civil liberties in Northern Ireland. Publications available online include various key documents, annual reports, press releases, and a monthly newsletter Just News.
Peter Cory, a retired Canadian Supreme Court judge, was appointed in 2002 to investigate allegations of collusion between British and Irish security forces and paramilitaries in six high profile cases, four of which related to the deaths in Northern Ireland of Pat Finucane, Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright. All four reports, which were published by the Stationery Office on 1 April 2004, may be downloaded from this Collusion section of the University of Ulster’s CAIN web site. Several related inquiry reports and other documents are also available.
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is responsible for the regulation of all qualifications in Northern Ireland. Documents on the site include annual reports 2004-2005 onwards.
The Department for Communities (DfC) is part of the Northern Ireland Executive. The “law and legislation” section of the DfC’s site includes case law of the Social Security Commissioners and Child Support Commissioners for Northern Ireland 1960 onwards, via the NIDOC case law digest maintained by the DfC’s Decision Making Services. Electronic versions of Northern Ireland’s “Blue Volumes” and “Orange Volume”, containing collections of current social security and child support legislation, are also available.
The Department of Finance is responsible for building regulations within Northern Ireland. This section of its web site provides background information together with links to the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland), and to the primary legislation under which the Regulations are made. The Technical Booklets – guidance on meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations which is published by the DFP – are reproduced on the site. There are also summaries of Building Regulation appeal decisions 2008 onwards.
The Department of Finance (DoF) is a department of the Northern Ireland Executive. This section of its web site has information on certain aspects of civil law reform in Northern Ireland, including private family law, trusts and property law, tort, contract law and private international law, which are responsibilities of the Civil Law Reform Division (CLRD) within the DoF’s Departmental Solicitor’s Office. There is information on consultations and current projects, and news of recent developments.
The Equality Commission took over on 1 October 1999 the functions previously carried out by the Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland, the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland, the Fair Employment Commission and the Northern Ireland Disability Council. The site has sections aimed at individuals and at employers and service providers. The “Delivering Equality” section includes information about the commission’s work, and about various subject areas, and a searchable database of cases the commission has supported. There are also legislation, publications and news sections accessible via the links at the foot of each page.
The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) was set up under the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 as the self-regulating professional body for the teaching profession in Northern Ireland. It maintains a register of teachers in Northern Ireland which is searchable online. Documents on the site include the Code of Values and Professional Practice.
The Independent Case Examiner was established in 1997 and investigates complaints about certain government organisations that deal with benefits and financial support, including the Child Support Agency, the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency, Jobcentre Plus, the Disability and Carers Service, the Financial Assistance Scheme, Debt Management, and Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division (Northern Ireland). This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the Independent Case Examiner’s responsibilities, activities and publications. Archived annual reports are available back to 2000/2001.
Industrial Tribunals in Northern Ireland hear and determine claims relating to a range of employment matters, including unfair dismissal, breach of contract, and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation and equal pay. The Fair Employment Tribunal hears and determines complaints of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and/or political opinion. The site contains main decisions, in a searchable database, from the beginning of 2007 onwards. Information booklets may be downloaded from the Publications & Statistics section. In the Useful Information section there are links to relevant legislation on the Legislation.gov.uk web site.
The Insolvency Service for Northern Ireland is part of the Department for the Economy. Its site includes links to relevant legislation, guidance for insolvency practitioners, and details of bankruptcy and liquidation processes in Northern Ireland. Legislation is found under the “Introduction to the Insolvency Service” tab.
The law of both Ireland and Northern Ireland is covered by this site, which is hosted by University College Cork Law Faculty and edited by Dr Darius Whelan. It has annotated listings of sources for case law, legislation, the Irish Constitution, government information, legal systems and courts, the legal profession, law departments and the Peace Process. There is an A-Z subject index linking to book lists and selected online sources on a range of topics, and links to the Faculty’s other sites which include IRLII and the Irish Law Updates blog.
The web site includes a list of the judiciary in Northern Ireland, information about the court structure and sitting dates, a judicial conduct and complaints section, information about judicial training, reports from the Civil and Family Justice Review, a database of judicial decisions and directions, and sentencing guidelines.
The Lands Tribunal resolves disputes about the value of land and buildings in Northern Ireland, and about their occupation, use or development. Its web site provides information on its functions; links to relevant legislation, including the Lands Tribunal Rules (Northern Ireland) 1976 as amended; downloadable forms; and a table of published decisions since 1990 (and selected earlier ones), with links to full texts of the decisions.
The Society is the professional and regulatory body for solicitors in Northern Ireland. The web site includes a summary of its regulatory framework and details of the complaints procedure. Downloadable publications include the Solicitors’ Accounts Regulations 1998 and 2014 and the Society’s journal The Writ April 2000 onwards. There is also a directory of solicitors’ firms in the major towns and villages of Northern Ireland, searchable by name, geographical location or category of work undertaken.
The Lay Observer oversees the complaint-handling function of the Law Society of Northern Ireland. The site includes information on the Lay Observer’s role, details of the complaints procedure, and recent annual reports.
The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland (LSANI) was created on 1 April 2015 as an executive agency within the Department of Justice upon the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission. It is responsible for administering publicly funded legal services. The site has information for members of the public and practitioners. Information for the legal profession includes legislation and guidance, legal aid forms and circulars. Information for the public includes a link to the Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Solicitors Directory.
Northern Ireland legislation on the UK’s official legislation database includes Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly 2000 onwards, Acts of the Old Irish Parliament 1495-1800 (partial coverage), Northern Ireland Statutory Rules 1996 onwards (with partial coverage 1991-1995), Northern Ireland Orders in Council 1972 onwards (partial coverage 1972-1986; full coverage 1987 onwards), Northern Ireland Assembly Measures 1974, and Acts of the Northern Ireland Parliament 1921-1972 (partial coverage). Primary legislation is reproduced as revised, with an option in the case of recent legislation to select the original “as enacted” text under “What Version” on the left of the screen. Secondary legislation is not revised. Explanatory Memoranda to Orders in Council and Statutory Rules are included if published.
NetRegs provides information for small and medium-sized businesses in about how to comply with environmental legislation. The site is produced in partnership by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Guidelines are accessible both by type of business and by environmental topic. The “Legislation” section has information about current and proposed legislation relating to Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively.
This is the successor to the Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland (CJSNI) site. Here will be found information, with web site links, on the main criminal justice organisations, which include the Department of Justice, Police Service, Prison Service, Probation Board, Public Prosecution Service, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service and Youth Justice Agency.
The Assembly was established as part of the Belfast Agreement and is the prime source of authority for all devolved responsibilities. It has full legislative and executive authority. The site includes a directory of members; Official Report (Hansard) July 1998 onwards; Bills 1999 onwards; and tables showing progress of Statutory Rules. The site also includes Minutes of Departmental and Standing Committee meetings.
The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS), an agency of Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice, administers the courts of Northern Ireland, comprising the Supreme Court, county courts, magistrates’ courts, coroners’ courts, and certain tribunals. This section of the Department of Justice site has information on the work of NICTS, including complaints procedures, but it excludes judicial decisions, which may be found on a new site Judiciary NI.
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the province’s devolved legislature. It assumed control of Northern Ireland from the UK government’s Northern Ireland Office on 8 May 2007, when a period of direct rule was brought to an end and devolution resumed. Its web site has the text of the Ministerial Code, Executive statements, news releases, and links to web sites of individual NI government departments.
The Commission was set up in March 1999 under section 68 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in compliance with the commitment made by the British Government in the Good Friday Agreement. The site includes human rights related legislation and policy documents, press releases, speeches and articles, from 1999 onwards.
The Commission was established in June 2005, as an independent public body under the Justice (Northern Ireland) Acts 2002 and 2004, to select and recommend candidates for judicial office in Northern Ireland. Contents of its web site include information on the appointments process, guides, minutes of Plenary Meetings and annual reports.
The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman was established on 25 September 2006 under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 to investigate allegations by applicants for judicial appointments of maladministration or unfairness on the part of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service or the Lord Chancellor. The site provides details of the complaints procedure and annual reports.
The Northern Ireland Law Commission, an independent advisory non-departmental public body, was formally launched on 1 April 2008. Its function is to keep the law of Northern Ireland under review and to make recommendations for its systematic development and reform. Publications include programmes of law reform, current projects, law reform reports, annual reports and consultations.
The Northern Ireland Office is the UK government department responsible for Northern Ireland affairs including oversight of the Northern Ireland devolution settlement. Publications available here on the GOV.UK web site relate largely to constitutional and security issues, law and order, policing and criminal justice. They include policy papers, reports and guidance. Information on the Northern Ireland devolution settlement includes links to legislation.
‘The Library at Queen’s has historically played an important role in collecting Northern Ireland official publications and making them available to the research community and the wider public. Print publications have been collected for many years under National Archives and earlier HMSO guidance that the Library should be treated as an official deposit library for Northern Ireland official publications. For the period of September 2015 onwards, the Library has focused on the creation of a digital archive of Northern Ireland official publications. Documents are gathered from departmental, agency, Assembly and other official websites.’
The Northern Ireland Ombudsman site provides information on what are at present three separate roles: the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (which replaced on 1 April 2016 the former Assembly Ombudsman and Commissioner for Complaints), the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman and the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards. Each section of the site has relevant information and guidance, details of complaint procedures and annual reports.
The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) is the body responsible for regulating and registering the social care workforce in Northern Ireland. Its register is searchable online. Other content includes codes of practice, the Conduct Rules, consultations, and a “Fitness to Practise & Hearings” section which includes downloadable decisions.
Membership of the Ombudsman Association is open to ombudsmen and other complaint-handling bodies within the UK, the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, and Ireland. The web site has a complete list of its 60+ members, with brief descriptions, contact details and links. Publications on the site include the most recent annual report and an occasional newsletter The Ombudsman.
A review by Sir Desmond de Silva QC of state involvement in the murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane on 12 February 1989 was announced by the Government in October 2011. Sir Desmond’s report, published 12 December 2012, is available here on the GOV.UK site.
The Society is the regulatory and professional body for pharmacists in Northern Ireland. Its register is searchable online. Other content includes guidance, links to legislation, the Code of Ethics, and details of the complaint procedure.
The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) is an independent appellate body which deals with a range of land use planning issues and related matters in Northern Ireland. The site includes information, forms and guidance for appellants. There is a quick link to appeal decisions of the last few months, and within Publications a “Digest” section covering recent appeals, inquiries and hearings. The site also provides information on Northern Ireland’s Water Appeals Commission.
Northern Ireland’s Planning Portal site provides information on the province’s planning system, which since 8 May 2016 is shared between local councils and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI). It includes guidance, consultations, forms, news and statistics. In the Legislation section there are lists of both primary and secondary legislation, with links to texts, and downloadable legislative directions.
The Ombudsman’s office provides an independent police complaints system under the Police (Northern Ireland) Acts 1998 and 2000. There are links to those Acts and to other relevant legislation. Publications include press releases, research reports and investigation reports. There is brief information, and where relevant the full text of judgments, on decisions of the Ombudsman which have been subjected to judicial review.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS), which began operating in Northern Ireland in 2005, fulfils a similar role to that of the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales. The web site contains the Code for Prosecutors and information about the PPS’s role and procedures. Press releases are available from 2005 onwards and reports of complaints against the PPS also from 2005 onwards.
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is the independent health and social care services regulator for Northern Ireland. Its site provides links to relevant legislation on the Legislation.gov.uk site, including the Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, under which RQIA was established in 2005.
Inquiry, chaired by Sir Edwin Jowitt, into the death of Robert Hamill, which followed an incident in Portadown, Northern Ireland, on 27 April 1997. Site content includes press notices, timetables, transcripts and evidence. Public hearings were completed in December 2009. The Inquiry’s report was completed in February 2011 and will be published once legal proceedings against three individuals have been concluded.
Inquiry, chaired by Sir Michael Morland, into the circumstances which led to the murder of the lawyer Rosemary Nelson in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, in March 1999, and into the police investigation which followed it. Documentation on the site, now archived in the UK Government Web Archive, includes timetables, press notices, transcripts, evidence, and procedural updates. The Inquiry’s report was published on 23 May 2011 and is accessible via a link to the archived Official Documents web site.
The London Gazette (first published 1665), Edinburgh Gazette (first published 1699, content available online 1796 onwards) and Belfast Gazette (first published 1921) are the official newspapers of record of the United Kingdom, recording and disseminating a wide range of official, regulatory and legal information. Legal content includes insolvency notices and certain Orders in Council. The free online archive for all three Gazettes is to be found on this website launched early in 2014, each Gazette having previously had its own web presence.
The Utility Regulator is the informal name of the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR), which regulates the electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries in Northern Ireland. Like its counterpart authorities in Great Britain, Ofgem and Ofwat, NIAUR also exercises powers within its sector, concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority, under the Competition Act 1998. Publications on the site include consultation papers 2002 onwards and press releases 1997 onwards.