Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976

Taking of evidence in State for criminal trial in Northern Ireland.

12.—(1) Upon production by or on behalf of the Attorney General to the Chief Justice, sitting otherwise than in public, of a letter of request issued under provisions of the law of Northern Ireland corresponding to section 11 by a court in Northern Ireland for the taking of evidence in the State from a witness specified in the letter of request—

(a) the Chief Justice shall designate a judge of the High Court to take the evidence of the witness, and

(b) the judge so designated (hereinafter referred to as the Commissioner) shall take on oath (which he is hereby authorised to administer) the evidence of the witness.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Commissioner—

(a) shall appoint the dates, times and places of his sittings,

(b) shall determine the procedure of the sittings,

(c) shall hold the sittings otherwise than in public, except at such times and on such occasions as he directs, and

(d) may direct that the name and address of any witness shall not be disclosed to any person other than the Commissioner and his officers, the members of the court in Northern Ireland concerned and any officers designated by them, the parties to the proceedings in Northern Ireland, their counsel and solicitors and, where the Commissioner considers it required in the interests of justice, any other person whom the Commissioner specifies in the direction or in any subsequent direction.

(3) The Commissioner may—

(a) direct any person whose evidence he is to take to attend on a date and at a time and place specified in the direction and there to give evidence before the Commissioner and to produce any document or thing in his possession or power specified in the direction,

(b) direct that person to produce to him any specified document or thing in his possession or power,

(c) give any other directions (including directions for the provision of interpreters and translators) for the purpose of the examination that appear to him reasonable and just, and

(d) upon any adjournment of the proceedings, if he thinks it appropriate to do so, on the application of the accused or the prosecutor, authorise the temporary return of the accused to Northern Ireland.

(4) The members of the court in Northern Ireland concerned and any officers of that court designated by them shall be entitled to be present at each sitting of the Commissioner, and the Commissioner shall arrange his sittings so as to facilitate their presence and, subject to subsection (6), shall comply with any request by those members to put any particular question or questions to the witness.

(5) The accused in the proceedings in Northern Ireland, his counsel and solicitor and the counsel and solicitor for the prosecution shall be entitled to be present at each sitting of the Commissioner, and those counsel or solicitors and the accused (if he is not represented by counsel or a solicitor) shall have the like right to question any witness, and to make submissions or representations to the Commissioner, as counsel or a solicitor has at a trial on indictment in the State. This subsection shall not affect the power of the Commissioner, under subsection (2) (b), to exclude any person from a sitting if the Commissioner considers it necessary to do so for the preservation of order.

(6) (a) A witness whose evidence has been or is being or is to be taken on commission under this section shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities as a witness in the Central Criminal Court, and claims of privilege and immunity shall be determined by the Commissioner.

(b) Questions as to the exclusion of any oral evidence, or the withholding of any document or thing, on the ground of public interest shall be determined by the Commissioner in accordance with the law of the State.

(7) A person who—

(a) having been directed under subsection (3) (a) to attend before the Commissioner, and having had tendered to him any sum in respect of the expenses of his attendance which a witness summoned to attend before the Central Criminal Court would be entitled to have tendered to him, without just cause or excuse disobeys the direction,

(b) being in attendance before the Commissioner, refuses to take the oath on being required by the Commissioner to do so, refuses to answer any question which the Commissioner may require him to answer or refuses to produce any document or thing which the Commissioner may direct him to produce,

(c) disobeys a direction under subsection (2) (d) or (3) (c), or

(d) does any other thing in relation to the proceedings before the Commissioner which, if done in relation to proceedings before the Central Criminal Court by a witness in that court, would be contempt of that court,

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

(8) If a person gives false evidence before the Commissioner in such circumstances that, if he had given the evidence before a court, he would be guilty of perjury, he shall be guilty of that offence.

(9) At the conclusion of the taking of evidence under this section at which the accused is present and upon any adjournment thereof in relation to which an authorisation is given under subsection (3) (d), the accused shall be brought by the Garda Síochána as soon as may be to some convenient point of departure from the State and there delivered into the custody of the police of Northern Ireland.