The Maximum Number of Judges Order (Northern Ireland) 2020

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:45 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 5:45 pm, 14th December 2020

I am pleased to speak briefly to the motion on behalf of the Justice Committee. The Minister outlined details on the statutory rule before us, which will increase the maximum number of High Court judges from 10 to 15. That will allow for headroom for the addition of judges that may be required due to unforeseen circumstances. For example, the president of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board is a member of the High Court bench, which has decreased the number of judges who are available to deal with High Court business. The rule also will allow for the appointment of part-time judges, which could potentially increase diversity at that tier of the judiciary, and the Committee would welcome that.

At its meeting of 22 October, the Committee agreed that it was content with the proposal to make the rule. The statutory rule was subsequently considered at the meeting of the Committee on 3 December, when the Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no comment to make by way of technical scrutiny and agreed to recommend that the statutory rule be affirmed by the Assembly. I therefore support the motion on behalf of the Committee for Justice.