Supreme Court to sit in Northern Ireland for first time

The UK Supreme Court is to sit in Northern Ireland for the first time since it was established in 2009.

The judges will convene in the Inns of Court Library at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast for up to four days of hearings, starting on Monday 30 April 2018.

Announcing the visit, Supreme Court president Lady Hale said: “I am delighted that the Supreme Court will be sitting in Belfast in 2018. As the final court of appeal for the United Kingdom, we hear cases of profound importance to everyone in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. My colleagues and I strongly believe that the experience of watching a case in person should not be limited to those within easy reach of London. This is the second time that the Court has sat outside London and doing so is becoming an established feature of the Court’s calendar.

“While in Belfast we shall hear two significant appeals from the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. This will be a fantastic opportunity for local people to see the Court in action on their doorstep.”

The Supreme Court heard several appeals in Edinburgh earlier this year.

It will hear Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd while in the Northern Irish capital, the case relating to whether a bakery directly discriminated against a customer on the grounds of sexual orientation when it refused to fulfil an order for a cake with “Support Gay Marriage” written on it.

The Court will also hear a case on whether a policy on allowances for widowed parents breaches human rights laws.

The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan, said: “I am very much looking forward to welcoming the Supreme Court to Belfast in April. I regard it as extremely significant that the Court is now sitting outside London and I am pleased that Belfast has been chosen as one of the earliest locations to feature in the Court’s calendar.”