NI: Proposals for new electoral boundaries quashed in Court of Appeal

NI: Proposals for new electoral boundaries quashed in Court of Appeal

Eoin Murphy

Controversial proposals to redraw constituency boundaries for Westminster elections in Northern Ireland have been quashed after a legal challenge from a Belfast resident.

The Court of Appeal found that the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland had misapplied the law, failed to give adequate reasons for this and fettered their discretion in considering consultation responses received at the latter stage of the consideration process.

Judicial review proceedings were brought by Patrick Lynch, represented by Ó Muirigh Solicitors, who contended that the Commission’s controversial 2018 report was legally flawed.

The High Court had held last year that the problems with the report did not justify the quashing of it, opting instead to grant declaratory relief.

Solicitor Eoin Murphy, acting for Mr Lynch, said: “Given the very significant effects of any legal error on the part of the Commission, and the essentially irreparable nature of those errors, the court quite correctly exercised an intense level of scrutiny and arrived at the correct conclusion to quash this report.”

He added: “The High Court has already established that the commission had fettered its discretion and acted in a procedurally unfair way by failing to fully consider consultation responses received by it in the final stages of the re-drawing process.

“The Court of Appeal has now furthered this stating that the Commission misapplied the law and failed to give adequate reasons for this. This affirmation from the Court of Appeal will go a long way to clarifying the obligations imposed upon this or any future Boundary Commission.”

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