The Role of the Appeal Courts
The Club were delighted to welcome Monday 23 September guest speaker Sir Ronnie Weatherup, Retired Lord Justice, NI Court of Appeal who gave a fascinating and well-received address about the Appeal Courts. Sir Ronnie advised that he had spent 2 years sitting on the NI Court of Appeal hearing about 100 cases around half civil and half criminal. He noted that it is the highest court of appeal in NI and is ruled by 4 judges and the Chief Justice, appeal from it lies with the Supreme Court of the UK. He noted that Justice Brian Kerr (former Chief Justice) is its current NI representative and having sat for 10 years is the longest serving. The final Court of Appeal is the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg established by the European Convention on Human Rights.He revealed that although Parliament is supreme it decided that Judges should have certain roles to decide on issues which have needed legal interpretation and in the last generation have developed greater reach. In particular equality legislation has led to a whole raft of created new rights; the Human Rights Act has brought in domestic entitlement to human rights issues and that Judicial reviews have expanded greatly.
He particularly considered one case (Lee v Ashers) where the 2 Courts of Appeal differed and as the case is now being taken to the Court of Human Rights Sir Ronnie declared that it will be interesting to see how it develops in Strasbourg and how it will impinge on future cases.