NI: DoJ launches consultation on statutory time limits for NI criminal cases

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

Justice Minister David Ford has launched a new consultation on the introduction of statutory time limits for progressing criminal cases in Northern Ireland.

Mr Ford said he had proposed the time limits as “part of an ambitious programme to speed up our justice system”.

The revised consultation takes on board views expressed in a previous consultation in December 2013 and invites stakeholders to respond to new plans which will require legislative changes.

Mr Ford said: “Soon after becoming Justice Minister I committed to speeding up our criminal justice system. While progress has been made, it will not be possible to deliver a statutory time limit scheme within this Assembly mandate, as it would require primary legislation.

“This consultation seeks views on how the law might be amended to deliver the flexibility needed, and also the most effective type of statutory time limits scheme.”

He added: “I remain committed to reducing the burden on victims and witnesses, freeing up resources and increasing public confidence.”

Our sister publication, Scottish Legal News, recently revealed that Scotland’s statutory “140 day rule” for serious cases is being “routinely disregarded in an oppressive and unjust way”.

The fourteen-week consultation on statutory time limits in Northern Ireland, available here, will end on 28 March 2016.

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