Ronan Cormacain: What should courts do when ministers flout the law?

UK Constitutional Law Association

No, this is not a paper on covid rule-breaking by UK ministers.  Instead it analyses the judgment of 20th December 2021 in Re Napier, on what happens when Northern Ireland ministers refuse to comply with their legal duties.  The particular duty was the duty to participate in meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council (the NSMC).    Given that the Democratic Unionist Party ministers had already been found to be acting unlawfully by failing to participate, what would happen when the case came back before the court, and the court was asked to order them to stop acting unlawfully?

Facts

Part V of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 sets out various duties of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (of Northern Ireland) in relation to meetings of the NSMC. The NSMC essentially provides a venue for discussion of matters where the government of Northern Ireland and the government of…

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