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Legal Opinion

Northern Ireland written question – answered on 8th November 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department spent on (a) legal advice and (b) instructing counsel in (i) 2007, (ii) 2009, (iii) 2010 and (iv) the first six months of 2011; how many times (A) his Department was taken to court and (B) a decision taken by his Department was subject to a judicial review; and what the outcome was of each such (1) case and (2) review.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

On 12 April 2010, the Northern Ireland Office transferred responsibility for policing and justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Comparable figures are, therefore, not available for the Department as it is now configured prior to April 2010.

The Department receives support from the Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch (HOLAB) and from the Crown Solicitor's Office for Northern Ireland. It also receives occasional advice from other Government bodies, such as the Treasury Solicitor's Office (TSO).

During the financial year 2010-11 the Department spent £773,000 on legal costs arising from work undertaken by HOLAB and TSO. The costs for the first six months of the financial year 2011-12 are approximately £343,000. The costs of legal work undertaken by the Crown Solicitor's Office for Northern Ireland for 2010-11 was £147,000, and for 2011-12 was £51,000.

The Northern Ireland Office does not commission external legal advice itself, but in acting on behalf of the Department, these bodies will from time to time instruct counsel.

Since April 2010, the Department has been taken to court 11 times (including industrial tribunals and judicial reviews). The NIO were dismissed from three of these and the remaining cases are ongoing.

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