On appeal from: [2017] NIQB 121

This appeal considered whether, on a true construction of condition 4 in the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, s 1, it embraces members of the security forces in Northern Ireland accused of offences that are not part of sectarian violence, and whether the ordinary rules of natural justice apply to the issuance of a certificate under s 1.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, holding that the true construction of condition 4 does include a member of the armed forces shooting a person he suspected of being a member of the IRA. The Court considered that the circumstances covered by condition 4 are extremely wide, covering offences committed to any extent (even if indirectly) in connection with or in response to religious or political hostility of one person or group of persons. The Court determined that there was no need to consider the Explanatory Notes to the Act or the ministerial statements referred to by the appellant because the language of the relevant statutory provisions is clear. The Court held that trial by jury should not be assumed to be the unique means of achieving fairness in the criminal process, and although it is a right, it is not an absolute right. The Court concluded that the DPP was bound to have made the decision even if he had considered that s 1 had to be construed narrowly, and he took proper steps to allow him to consider whether he suspected that condition 4 was met, addressing whether there was a risk that the administration of justice would be impaired.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 26
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (14 Mar 2019 morning session) (14 Mar 2019 afternoon session)