Reference by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland of devolution issues to the Supreme Court pursuant to Paragraph 34 of Schedule 10 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (No 2)
Case ID: UKSC 2017/0066
- Whether in the light of the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of political opinion or religious belief contained in s 24(1)(c) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (‘NI 1998’), there was power to make, confirm or approve Regulation 5 of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (‘Regulation 5’) insofar as Regulation 5 imposes civil liability for the refusal to express a political opinion or to express a view on a matter of public policy contrary to the religious belief of the person refusing to express that view.
- Whether in the light of s 24(1)(a) NI 1998, and Articles 9, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, there was power to make Regulation 5.
- Whether in the light of the prohibition in s 17 Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, Article 28 of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 is void insofar as Article 28 imposes civil liability for the refusal to express a political opinion or to express a view on a matter of public policy contrary to the religious belief of the person refusing to express that view.
- Whether paragraph 33 of Schedule 10 NI 1998 permits a reference to be made under that provision when the requirement for such a reference has been made after judgment has been given on the relevant devolution issue but before the court order has been finalised.
These references have been brought following the judgment of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal in Lee v McArthur & Ors  NICA 39, which was an appeal from a decision of the County Court. The County Court held that the owners of a bakery directly discriminated against a customer on the grounds of sexual orientation and religious belief by refusing to make a cake decorated with the words ‘Support Gay Marriage’ because of their religious beliefs. The Court of Appeal refused an appeal against the finding of direct sexual orientation discrimination and allowed the finding of direct religious discrimination to stand. Following delivery of the Court of Appeal's judgment, but before the order of the court was filed, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland sought to require the Court of Appeal to refer devolution issues to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal ruled that it could not be required to do so because at that date there were no proceedings before it.
Attorney General for Northern Ireland
Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge, Lady Black
Hearing start date
01 May 2018
Hearing finish date
02 May 2018