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Case details

In the matter of an application by JR222 for Judicial Review (AP) (Appellant) (Northern Ireland)

Case ID: UKSC 2023/0006

Case summary

Issues

Whether it is correct that under s.13(1) of the Inquiries Act 2005 a minister can only suspend a public inquiry where the minister takes the view that it is necessary to allow for the completion of civil or criminal proceedings?

Facts

In September 2020, the Minister of Health (the "Minister") ordered a public inquiry (the "Inquiry") under the Inquiries Act 2005 into abuse allegations against the Appellant. The Inquiry commenced hearing evidence in June 2022. The Inquiry will report and make findings on events that occurred between 2 December 1999 and 14 June 2021. In the criminal proceedings, the Appellant faces several counts of alleged acts of abuse committed between April and June 2017.

The Appellant requested that the Inquiry be suspended until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The Minister refused to exercise his discretion under s.13 of the Inquiries Act 2005 to suspend the Inquiry pending the determination of the criminal proceedings. From correspondence between the parties, it then became apparent that the Minister had been advised that he could only suspend the Inquiry if he concluded that it was "necessary" to do so.

The Appellant applied for judicial review of the Minister's refusal to suspend the Inquiry into her alleged abuse of hospital patients until the determination of criminal proceedings against her. The Appellant argued, among other things, that the Minister under s.13(1) did not have to overcome a necessity test in order to suspend an inquiry to permit the completion of relevant proceedings, but instead the length of any such suspension was limited to such period as the Minister considered necessary for the completion of those proceedings. The High Court disagreed; it held the Minister had applied the correct test. On appeal, the Court of Appeal also held that the Minister had applied the correct test. The Appellant now seeks permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment appealed

[2022] NICA 57

Parties

Appellant(s)

JR222

Respondent(s)

(1) Health Minister for Northern Ireland
(2) Muckamore Abbey Inquiry

Appeal

Justices

Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens, Lord Richards, Lady Simler

Hearing start date

20 March 2024

Hearing finish date

20 March 2024