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Law: Northern Ireland Law

How to find law reports, journal articles and other sources of legal information

Northern Ireland Statutes

Primary legislation applying specifically to Northern Ireland has taken the form of Acts of the Northern Ireland (Stormont) Parliament, Orders in Council and, after 2000, Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly. These are cited (following OSCOLA) as, e.g.

Wild Birds Protection Act (NI) 1931.
Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
Child Maintenance Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

This legislation has been made for the most part in the areas of law and order, policing, criminal law, health and social services, education, planning and the environment, industrial development, and agriculture.

In addition, a small but significant amount of Westminster legislation has applied exclusively to Northern Ireland, e.g.

Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1980.

Finding Northern Ireland Statutes

The legislation.gov database (at www.legislation.gov.uk) contains the full updated text of Northern Ireland primary legislation from 1922 to the present. Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly are also available as enacted. Original versions of some Orders in Council are also available.

Use the 'Advanced Search' to limit results to Northern Ireland legislation. 

Westlaw UK provides the text of Northern Ireland Orders in Council as in force, 1991 onwards; also Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly as in force. Use the 'Legislation' tab to browse and keyword search.

The Lexis Library includes 'Valentine: All Laws of Northern Ireland' under 'Commentary'. Browse the available commentary sources to select Valentine. The database includes the full annotated text of Acts, Orders, Rules and regulations applying to Northern Ireland, along with a note of relevant Northern Ireland and Irish case law. A few English cases are noted if they are of particular importance to Northern Ireland.

The blue binders of the Statutes Revised Northern Ireland print the text of primary legislation in force in March 1981. Binders for 1982 onwards print legislation as enacted. All amendments to legislation from 1982 onwards are listed in Cumulative Supplement binders.

The print volumes of the Northern Ireland Statutes, 1921- contain original versions of primary legislation.

Westlaw UK also provides revised versions of Acts passed at Westminster relating to Nothern Ireland (1922 -). These can be browsed from the 'Legislation' tab. Halsburys' Statutes of England, vol 31 reprints consolidated versions of Acts applying exclusively to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Statutory Rules

The legislation.gov database (at www.legislation.gov.uk) contains Nothern Ireland Statutory Rules from 1996 onwards. Some earlier SRs (1986 - 1995) are also included.

Westlaw UK provides Statutory Rules in force from 1991 onwards.

Printed Statutory Rules are published as Northern Ireland Statutory Rules, 1973 - ; and Statutory Rules and Orders, 1922 - 1972.

Suggested citation, e.g.

The River Bann Navigation Order (Northern Ireland) 2010 (SR 126).

Secondary legislation for Northern Ireland also includes Statutory Instruments passed at Westminster applying to Nothern Ireland only.

Westlaw UK includes selected SIs applying exclusively to Northern Ireland, 1949 - 1990; and all SIs applying exclusively to Northern Ireland, 1991 onwards. These are cited e.g.

The Guardian's Allowance Up-rating (Northern Ireland) Order 2009, SI 2009/797.

Northern Ireland Case Law

Northern Ireland cases are reported in the Northern Ireland Law Reports and the Northern Ireland Judgments Bulletin.

They are available online from the following sources:

Other Useful Sources

The Current Law Monthly Digest provides updates on Northern Ireland legislation by subject. Northern Ireland cases are also noted where they appear in selected UK law reports (cases reported in the Northern Ireland Law Reports are not included). These appear in a separate section. The Northern Ireland entries are retained in the annual volumes of the Current Law Year Book

The Bulletin of Northern Ireland Law  provides a comprehensive digest of legal developments in Northern Ireland for the period 1981 - 2012. Publication has been discontinued and online access is no longer available.

Brice Dickson's Law in Northern Ireland: An Introduction provides a comprehensive introduction to the legal system in Northern Ireland.