NI: Nightingale court venue contract extended until September

NI: Nightingale court venue contract extended until September

The contract for the use of Belfast’s International Convention Centre (ICC) as a courts venue has been extended for a further two months.

The ICC was deployed in January as Northern Ireland’s first “Nightingale venue” to facilitate court and tribunals business.

It has since heard 17 inquests, preliminary hearings, 24 sittings of the Small Claims Court, three sittings of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and 45 sitting days for benefit appeals.

There have also been five jury empanelment sessions since February and consultation and waiting areas have been available for lawyers and their clients attending family and civil proceedings in Laganside or the Royal Courts of Justice.

The venue also hosted, in May, the delivery of the findings of the Ballymurphy series of inquests, enabling many of the relatives of those who died to attend in person.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “Since it opened in January, the Nightingale courts and tribunals venue at the ICC Belfast has played an important role in NICTS and the judiciary’s efforts to increase the number of hearings.

“All of these activities have been undertaken in compliance with Covid safety regulations and, as we continue to address the backlog across a number of court tiers and tribunals, it makes sense to use this facility while it is available.

“It is a remarkable achievement to have delivered this level of business despite an ever changing situation. I want commend all of our partners in the justice system for playing their part in ensuring the delivery of justice for citizens and victims of crime continued through these unprecedented times.”

The extended contract will run until 3 September 2021.

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