Glossary of Terms

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Department of Constitutional Affairs (England & Wales)

The Department was formerly responsible for running the courts and improving the justice system, human rights and information rights law, and law and policy on running elections and modernising the constitution.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was established in 2007 and is now responsible for policy on the overall criminal, civil, family and administrative justice system, including sentencing policy, as well as the courts, tribunals, legal aid and constitutional reform in England and Wales.

Additional information can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.

Department of Justice (DoJ)

The DoJ was established on 12 April 2010. It is a Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive.

It is responsible for the following executive agencies:

  • Compensation Agency for Northern Ireland;

  • Forensic Science Northern Ireland;

  • Northern Ireland Prison Service;

  • Youth Justice Agency;

  • Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service.

The DoJ is also responsible for the following non-departmental public bodies:

  • Northern Ireland Policing Board;  and

  • Parades Commission for Northern Ireland.

Additional information can be found on the Department of Justice website.

Devolution (of policing and justice)

Devolution is the transfer of Whitehall powers to local Assemblies.

Powers relating to policing and justice now come under the Department of Justice whose Minister was elected by cross-community vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Direct Rule

The governing of Northern Ireland by the Government in London rather than by the Northern Ireland Assembly.


The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came into effect in 1995.

The DDA protects disabled people in the areas of:

  • Employment;

  • Access to goods, facilities and services; and

  • Buying or renting land or property.

The DDA defines disability as:

"A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities."

Additional information can be found on the NI Direct website.

District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)

Formerly known as resident magistrates but in June 2008 they were renamed as District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts).

District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) deal with both criminal and civil cases. All criminal cases, even the most serious, are heard in the first instance in the magistrates’ court (see committal proceedings).

District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) also exercise a wide range of civil jurisdiction including the recovery of debt, ejectments, domestic/affiliation proceedings and Public Health legislation, certain planning appeals, applications under the Education and Library Orders and Electoral Law matters.

District Judges

In civil proceedings, many cases in which the sum involved does not exceed £2000 will be dealt with by a District Judge by way of arbitration, called the small claims procedure.
This is primarily designed to resolve simple consumer disputes bases on a default procedure, usually without the need for a solicitor or barrister.


The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.

It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognising our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.