Northern Ireland law

Northern Ireland law

Northern Ireland law refers to the legal system of statute and common law operating in Northern Ireland since Northern Ireland was established as a separate jurisdiction within the United Kingdom in 1921.



For the purposes of private international law the United Kingdom is divided into three distinct legal jurisdictions:

Northern Ireland is a common-law jurisdiction. Although its common law is similar to that in England, and partially derives from the same sources, there are some important differences in law and procedure between Northern Ireland and England and Wales.

The current statute law of Northern Ireland comprises those Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament that apply to Northern Ireland and acts of the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as statutory instruments made by departments of the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government. Also remaining on the statute books are many Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland passed between 1921 and 1972, certain Acts of the Irish Parliament made before the Act of Union 1800, and Acts of the English Parliament and British Parliament extended to Ireland under Poynings' Law between 1494 and 1782.

Criminal law

Criminal offences

Offences against the person

Fatal offences
Sexual Offences
Non-fatal non-sexual offences

Offences against property

Firearms and offensive weapons

Forgery, personation and cheating

See forgery: See personation: See cheating:

Offences against the State or Crown or Government and political offences

  • High treason
  • Misprision of treason
  • Compounding treason
  • Treason felony
  • Attempting to injure or alarm the Sovereign, contrary to section 2 of the Treason Act 1842
  • Offences under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989
  • Offences under the Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934
  • Causing disaffection, contrary to section 68 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998
  • Incitement to sedition or disaffection or promoting industrial unrest, contrary to section 3 of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919
  • Offences relating to terrorism
  • Offences under section 1 of the Unlawful Drilling Act 1819
  • Piracy iure gentium
  • Piracy with violence, contrary to the Piracy Act 1837
  • Offences under the Slave Trade Act 1824
  • Offences under the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870
  • Offences under the Immigration Act 1971
  • Coinage offences under Part II of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981
  • Offences relating to public stores under the Public Stores Act 1875
  • Offences against postal and electronic communication services
  • Misconduct in public office
  • Refusal to execute public office
  • Offences of selling public offices under the Sale of Offices Act 1551 and Sale of Offices Act 1809 (see section 1 thereof)
  • Cheating the public revenue
  • Offences under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979
  • Tax evasion and money laundering offences
Abolished offences

Harmful or dangerous drugs

Offences against religion and public worship

Offences against the administration of public justice

Public order offences

Offences against public morals and public policy

Protection of children and vulnerable adults

Protection of animals and the environment

Road traffic and motor vehicle offences

Participatory offences

Participatory offences include aiding, abetting, counseling, or procuring the act of some crime or conspiracy. It also includes being an accomplice to criminal behavior.

Defences to crime

See also


Legal system





  1. ^ Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice lists child destruction as an offence against the person
  2. ^ Again this is the label adopted by Archbold

Further reading

External links

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