Supreme Court hears case on Northern Ireland Abortion Services “Safe Access Zones”


The Supreme Court has heard the case of Reference by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland – Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill.

The Attorney General argued that clause 5(2)(a) of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill, which does not include an express “reasonable excuse” clause was outside the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly because it disproportionately interferes with the rights of persons who wish to express their opposition to the provision of abortion treatment services in Northern Ireland. JUSTICE, intervening, argued that the lack of an express “reasonable excuse” clause does not make the Bill incompatible with Convention rights, because criminal courts must always consider whether a conviction would constitute a proportionate restriction of Articles 9, 10, or 11 of the Convention on the particular facts of the case, where those rights are engaged, regardless of the express elements of a given criminal offence.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, Tim James-Matthews and Robbie Stern represented JUSTICE in their intervention on this case, instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones and Allen.