This appeal considered whether inter alia the Northern Ireland Act 1998, s 28A requires a Northern Ireland Department in the absence of a Minister to act in accordance with the Northern Ireland Ministerial Code, and s 28A(10) deprives a Northern Ireland Department of its authority to take decisions under any statute empowering or requiring it to take decisions.

The Supreme Court adjourned the reference. It considered that it is desirable that legal questions be determined against the background of a clear factual matrix, rather than as theoretical or academic issues of law. As such, it held that the stay of proceedings in litigation concerning the validity of a proposed electricity interconnector between Northern Ireland and Ireland is not appropriate as this raises most, if not all, of the issues adumbrated in the current reference. It also did not accept the contention of the AG of Northern Ireland, that it was not open to him to become involved in those proceedings, absent service of a devolution notice. As such, the Court concluded that the stay on the proceedings in relation to the interconnector should be lifted, and there the issues raised in the current reference should be ventilated against a clear factual backdrop.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 1
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (17 Dec 2018 morning session)