Skip to main content

United Kingdom Legal Research: Northern Ireland

This guide will help with your United Kingdom Legal Research.

Northern Ireland Parliament

Northern Ireland Assembly

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive. It sits at Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast.

The Official Report of the Northern Ireland Assembly, also known as Hansard, is the authoritative record of the proceedings of the Assembly. The Official Report is a substantially verbatim transcript of the proceedings; it records what was said as well as what was decided.

The Stormont Papers offers access to the Parliamentary Debates of the devolved government of Northern Ireland from 7 June 1921 to the dissolution of Parliament in 28 March 1972.

Books

Northern Ireland jurisdiction

Northern Ireland forms part of the United Kingdom but is a distinct jurisdiction, with its own devolved legislative assembly and system of courts.

Now, Northern Ireland is mainly self-governing but its complex historical background means that legal research can be complicated.

This tab includes information on:

Northern Ireland legislation

Because of the complexity of its history and constitutional arrangements, legislation affecting Northern Ireland exists in different ways. In some instances, most statutes that applied to Northern Ireland only were made by Order in Council under the Northern Ireland Acts and were issued as UK Statutory Instruments, that is they took the form of and were passed as delegated legislation by the UK Parliament but were in substance the equivalent of primary legislation. In addition there were some UK statutes that extended to Northern Ireland; in the absence of any provision to the contrary an Act passed by the Westminister Parliament was presumed to extend to Northern Ireland, but in practice an express provision at the end of the Act indicated whether or not it so extended either wholly or in part.

For more information on legislation, see Guy Holburn's Legal Research Guide (2nd ed.) (page 258) and Researching the Law of Northern Ireland by Heather Semple Legal Information Management, 2008, 8(4), 283-287.

Northern Ireland legislation can be found at:

Northern Ireland case law

The Northern Ireland court structure is similar to that of the United Kingdom. In addition to its role as the highest court in England, Wales and Scotland, the Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords) also hears appeals from the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.

The following Northern Ireland judgments are available:

Northern Ireland journals

See the 'Books and Journals' tab above for information how to find UK journals in general.

Legal journals specific to Northern Ireland include:

  • Gazette / Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland (hard copy)

Further information

Researching Northern Irish law - Globalex research guide

Anthony, Gordon (2012) The Uniqueness of Northern Ireland Public Law, Legal Information Management 12(4), 262-266. (UniMelb access)

The purpose of this article is to outline some of the ways in which public law in Northern Ireland is unique within the wider setting of the UK. Although it is true that the law of Northern Ireland shares much in common with principle and practice elsewhere in the UK, there are some notable differences that are attributable to the fact that Northern Ireland has its own court system and legal and political history. The article thus examines some of the differences that exist at the constitutional level and which can be associated with, most famously, the Belfast Agreement 1998. It also summaries some of the differences that can be found at the level of legal citation, for instance of case law and statute law for the jurisdiction.

Inman, Jane (2012), Finding official British information (UniM Law K 105.1 A1 INMA), especially the chapter on 'Devolved Parliament and Assemblies and regional government'.

Semple, Heather (2008) Researching the Law in Northern Ireland, Legal Information Management 8(4), 283-287. (UniMelb access)