McC v The Department of Justice for Northern Ireland

Active Court of Appeal Case

The Applicant was not afforded an oral hearing by the Legal Services Agency on foot of an emergency civil application. The crux of the Applicant’s case is that regulation 26 and regulation 10 of the Civil Legal Services (Appeal) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 are unlawful in that they restrict the discretion of the Appeal Panel in such a way that firstly seemed to serve no rational purpose and secondly in a way which undermined the independence of the Appeal Panel.

Article 3 of The Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 provides that the Department shall secure that “individuals have access to civil legal services that effectively meet their needs, and promoting the availability to individuals of such services;”.

This case raises complex and difficult legal issues. The Applicant contends that an oral hearing is an important safeguard which ensures procedural fairness. It is submitted that the outcome of these appeal proceedings could have a significant effect on Civil Legal Services. The Civil Legal Services Appeal Panel sits on a frequent basis to determine a variety of cases, many of which are of great public interest in their own right.