17.This instrument provides for a sixth two-year extension of the provision that temporarily allows trial without jury for certain cases in Northern Ireland. Current provision will run out on 31 July 2019. The use of such courts is dependent on the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland issuing a certificate stating that certain conditions, set out in the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, are met, such as potential prejudice or witness intimidation. Concerns expressed in relation to previous renewal instruments have led to greater public consultation and to regular independent review of the operation of these provisions: both exercises endorsed the view that the system is currently operating effectively. Use of the provision remains low: the Explanatory Memorandum states that there were 12 non-jury trial cases in the Crown Court in 2016 (out of a total of 1640), and a further nine in 2017 (out of a total of 1409). The Northern Ireland Office argues, however, that due to the recent increase in violence and paramilitary and sectarian intimidation, the option of trial without jury should remain available to the courts.
18.When considering whether a person is eligible for Legal Aid, for either a criminal or a civil case, the Director of Legal Aid Casework must calculate an individual’s gross or disposable income and disposable capital to determine whether it exceeds the limits set out in legislation. This instrument provides that payments made to individuals in connection with the Windrush Compensation Scheme are disregarded for the purposes of those calculations. The Scheme opened for applications on 3 April 2019 and will run for two years until 2 April 2021. The Regulations set no time limit on the disregard, but the Explanatory Memorandum states that the Ministry of Justice will review the Regulations in five years’ time to ensure that the policy intent has been met.
2 Independent Reviewer Justice And Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, 10th Report (April 2019): [accessed 9 May 2019].