McIvor Farrell Negotiation Prize Winner Announced

As part of our community outreach programme we believe in supporting law students achieve their full potential and to reward their academic endeavours.
For the past number of years therefore we have presented a bursary to the Best Performing Student at The Institute of Professional Legal Studies in recognition of their negotiating abilities.
We are delighted this year to announce the recipient of the McIvor Farrell Prize for Negotiation Skills as Ms Rachel Black. We look forward to presenting Rachel with her well-deserved award at the Institute’s Prize Giving Ceremony at The Whitla Hall, Queens University Belfast on the 28th June 2017.

NI: Police have ‘no policy’ on enforcing civil injunction orders

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is failing to enforce civil injunction orders granted by the Northern Ireland courts, a Belfast-based solicitor has claimed.

Solicitor Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell Solicitors is acting in a judicial review against the PSNI.

His client, Paul Baxter, claims police failed to make arrests in respect of reported breaches of a civil injunction order granted by a County Court judge under the Protection from Harassment (NI) Order 1997 to protect him from harassment from his neighbours.

According to Mr O’Hare, the proceedings have revealed a lack of training for police officers in the meaning and purpose of these court orders and the protocol for dealing with them.

On Friday, a barrister for the PSNI said it was accepted that police do not have any protocols, guidance or policy in respect of civil injunction orders, but that they will be implemented as soon as possible.

Mr O’Hare said: “As a solicitor who deals with a high volume of Civil Injunction Order cases for protection from harassment, none of the defendants in any of the cases that I have dealt with have ever been arrested on foot of a reported breach of the order.

“The failure to arrest has caused many of my clients upset and distress. In contrast, I understand that the PSNI make regular arrests on foot of reported breaches of non-molestation orders.

“No difference should be made by police in respect of how breaches of these orders are dealt with.”

He added: “The failure of the PSNI to appropriately deal with reported breaches of civil injunction orders for protection from harassment is twofold.

“Firstly, police officers are not educated and/or trained on how to deal with reported breaches of these orders and secondly, no protocol exists within the PSNI for serving and keeping a log of these orders.

“We look forward to the implementation of guidance and protocol in respect of these orders, which has been outstanding for some 20 years.”

The case has been listed again in September for review to ensure that protocols and guidance have been developed by the PSNI and have been merged into service instructions and into service procedure.

League Win for Glenavy Under-14s

Congratulations to Glenavy U14s Girls for winning their Winter League, we’re delighted to be part of their success and wish the girls well for the future.

Impact of Stormont Suspension on Brexit

Belfast Solicitor Paul Farrell speaking to Reuters, and widely reported on websites such as the Daily Mail, has described how the suspension of the Stormont Assembly could impact the Brexit negotiations.

Solicitor Advocate Paul Farrell explained that  “in the current circumstances, where there is a potential suspension of the institutions, the approval of the devolved institutions would not be possible”.  McIvor Farrell are solicitors on the case taken by Raymond McCord to the UK Supreme Court over the Brexit decision and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Northern Ireland Assembly could be suspended following the resignation of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who resigned over the handling of the controversial RHI ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal by First Minister Arlene Foster.

Paul Farrell noted that “devolution has obviously added a layer of complexity to the constitutional arrangements within the United Kingdom and this case is addressing those complex relationships now.”

 

Prison Drug Smuggling Case Avoiding Custody

Paul FarrellSolicitor Advocate Paul Farrell received high praise from The Crown Court in a recent case involving the smuggling of drugs into prison. He was able to draw on relevant case law and strong mitigation on behalf of the Defendant which led to the Sentencing Judge commenting to the Defendant in passing sentence “Bringing drugs into the prison must in all but the most exceptional of circumstances attract a custodial sentence. However, Mr Farrell did a splendid job and an exceptional plea on your behalf and you should be eternally thankful to him for that.” The Defendant avoided custody in this particular case.

If you require advice in relation to any aspect of criminal law, from attendance at police stations to representation in the Courts contact us immediately on 02890237053

Supreme Court Brexit Challenge Video

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle ‘Focus on Europe’ video describing the Raymond McCord who lost his son in the Northern Ireland conflict and wants to block the UK’s exit from the EU. He argues Brexit could undermine the Good Friday peace agreement and has taken his case to UK Supreme Court.

Skeleton Argument in relation to our Supreme Court Brexit Challenge

Application to the Supreme Court by Raymond McCord for Judicial Review: Full Document Here

Excerpt:

Raymond McCord comes before the Supreme Court by way of a reference on a ‘devolution issue’ made pursuant to paragraph 9 of Schedule 10 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 [Northern Ireland (‘NI’) bundle – N-3] by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland with the consent of the parties on 18 November 2016. This is the Applicant’s case in support of answering the referred question in the affirmative.

Does the triggering of Article 50 Treaty of European Union (‘TEU’) by the exercise of the prerogative power without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland impede the operation of section 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998? [APPENDIX (‘APP’) pp 1-4]

 

High Court Judgement in London on Brexit

mcivor_farrell_belfast_brexit_ciaranWe welcome today’s decision in respect of the cases before the Divisional court of England Wales. We are of the view that this is a significant decision, which will no doubt have systemic ramifications. We are currently examining the written judgment and at this stage we believe that it is supportive of our case.

Mr McCord’s case is next listed before Belfast High Court on Tuesday 8 November 2016.

We understand that the Government’s statement in respect of today’s High Court decision will be announced on Monday.

Commons leader David Lidington says the government will make a statement to MPs about the High Court ruling on Brexit on Monday.

During business questions, he said: “I can confirm to the House that it is the government’s intention to appeal against today’s judgment from the High Court.

“We are, as the House is aware, in a situation where we have this judgment today and a very little while ago a judgment from the High Court of Northern Ireland which came to a completely different decision on the same subject.

“So we now have the High Courts in two different parts of the United Kingdom coming to opposite conclusions on the same constitutional and legal question. So this will need to go to a higher court.”

He added that the government will give a statement to the Commons on Monday about the ruling and the appeal.

Mr McCord’s case is that the British Government ceded some of its sovereignty to Northern Ireland through the enactment of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Act. Moreover, it is pleaded that the people of Northern Ireland are sovereign in relation to Constitutional change and only through the mandate of the people of Northern Ireland can Constitutional change come about.

Senator George Mitchell, who managed the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, when recently asked if Brexit was a breach of the Good Friday Agreement, said that the deal;

“plainly contemplates the possibility of a vote under certain circumstances that change Northern Ireland’s constitutional position…

The agreement plainly provides that the political status of Northern Ireland can be determined or changed only through a vote – and it’s the informed consent through a vote – of the people of Northern Ireland…”

Clearly, Senator George Mitchell agrees with the core argument that has been made in Mr McCord’s case.

Ciaran O’Hare, McIvor Farrell Solicitors

High Court Decision on Brexit Case

Mr McCord’s case is that the British Government ceded some of its sovereignty to Northern Ireland through the enactment of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Act. Moreover, it is pleaded that the people of Northern Ireland are sovereign in relation to Constitutional change and only through the mandate of the people of Northern Ireland can Constitutional change come about.

Senator George Mitchell, who managed the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, when recently asked if Brexit was a breach of the Good Friday Agreement, said that the deal;

“plainly contemplates the possibility of a vote under certain circumstances that change Northern Ireland’s constitutional position… The agreement plainly provides that the political status of Northern Ireland can be determined or changed only through a vote – and it’s the informed consent through a vote – of the people of Northern Ireland…”

Clearly, Senator George Mitchell agrees with the core argument that has been made in Mr McCord’s case.

On Friday 28 October 2016 Belfast High Court delivered judgement in relation to Mr McCord’s case and that of the cross-party group of politicians. The court did not find in favour of either case.

Despite the fact that the court did not find in Mr McCord’s favour, we believe that it is significant that the court stated the following in the course of judgment;

“…this does not mean that a first level judge is free to disregard the doctrine or sweep it away [the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty]. If that task is to be undertaken it will fall to the highest court to do so…”

We agree with the court’s view that the issues raised in Mr McCord’s case are matters for the highest court. In this regard, the fact that the court did not find in our favour was of no surprise to us. The High court in Belfast is bound by precedent (that is existing law).

No single precedent exists that categorically proves or disproves Mr McCord’s case. Therefore, it can be said that Mr McCord’s case is complex and ground-breaking. We have always been of the view that this matter must be put before the Supreme Court in London, as the Supreme Court is not bound by Precedent and has the power to make new law.

Provisional dates have been set for the Supreme Court in early December.

Ciaran O’Hare (Solicitor)

Brexit Judgement Due

Mr McCord’s case and that of the cross-party group of politicians are listed for judgment tomorrow at Belfast High court at 10am. This is highly significant as judgment will be handed down in Northern Ireland before London. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the world’s focus will be on Belfast High Court tomorrow morning.

Mr McCord’s case is that there can be no Brexit for Northern Ireland as the people of Northern Ireland are sovereign in respect of Constitutional change and this is based on the text of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act.

Thus far, Theresa May and our own First Minister have stated “Brexit means Brexit” but we say that this statement is misconceived. Mr McCord is highly disappointed that our First Minister has adopted a submissive attitude and is unwilling to stand up for what the people of Northern Ireland have voted for. To say that Brexit should proceed, even though the people of Northern Ireland did not vote for it, is unconstitutional and plainly wrong. Mr McCord is of the view that, as no-one else is prepared to stand up for the views of the people of Northern Ireland, it is up to his case alone to determine Northern Ireland’s future. He says that we are fortunate to have a legal system in Northern Ireland whereby a citizen is able to challenge the state through judicial review proceedings. If it wasn’t for this right, there would be no hope whatsoever for Northern Ireland, as our politicians have not done anything to stand up for the majority vote.

In short, we say that the people of Northern Ireland have a veto in respect of Brexit. Scotland, England and Wales can Brexit if they so wish but the majority vote in Northern Ireland was to remain.

Mr McCord’s case is the only case which says that Northern Ireland cannot Brexit. The other cases before London High court simply say that Article 50 can only be invoked after Parliamentary scrutiny.

Ciaran O’Hare, instructing solicitor in this case, is confident in our argument and we look forward to receiving judgment tomorrow.