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  History of Law Reform

North Irish Law: Brief History & Modern Reform


Brief History of Law in North Ireland

Prior to 1921 North Ireland's laws were based on the main legal traditions of Ireland, at least when the island was independent from Great Britain. 1921 saw the beginning of the official government and legal systems that would become North Ireland law. This system is a specific set of codes for the territory that, while having a basis in UK law, is distinctly different and recognizes Northern Island as a commonwealth with a limited amount of self-governance. The basis of these laws came from English common law, which has been used as a common basis for all members of the United Kingdom, but there are also some modifications based on common law that is based out of the full Irish tradition. As an independent commonwealth, North Ireland also creates its own precedence through court case rulings. There is an assembly that passes and creates new laws for the territory, although as part of the larger UK sometimes it is the House of Commons and House of Lords at the federal level that creates new laws Northern Ireland residents need to follow. The extreme specifics often need to be considered on a case by case basis.

Looking at Modern Day Law Reform in Northern Ireland

There are many different areas of North Ireland law where people living in the territory want to see a lot of change, but progress is going to happen at an incremental rate. There are two major areas of law where North Ireland differs from the main parts of the UK, and these are the two areas of law that tend to get the most attention when calls for reform are made. Land law reform is a major part of that. Rules on how land can be bought, seized, inherited, or otherwise transfer hands can often be confusing and even a bit convoluted. Straightening out these rules, eliminating archaic statutes, and creating a more sensible and consistent set of rules that eliminates many technicalities is extremely high priority for many legal advocacy groups. The other issue is abortion, as North Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where it is illegal. Residents in England, Wales, and Scotland all have access to safe abortions but that is not the case in North Ireland.

Law Advisory Committees & Watch Dog Groups

The Northern Ireland Law Commission is one of the big names involved with the said legal land reform efforts while The Law Reform Advisory Committee reviews Civil Law throughout Ireland and works tirelessly to make sure the word of the law reflects the best interests of the people. Along with these committees are several watchdog groups doing their part to help keep reform moving with various programs, such as the Stormont's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which has gained recent attention for pointing out the absurdly high costs of North Ireland's Legal Aid Bill. ____________________________________________________________________________