In order to show that there has been a breach of the commitment and a reduction of rights, safeguards or equality of opportunity provisions, there must be evidence that:
- the right, safeguard or equality of opportunity provision or protection is covered by the chapter of the same name in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement;
- it was protected under Northern Ireland law on, or before, the end of the Brexit transition period, namely 31 December 2020; and
- the reduction in rights occurred as a result of Brexit.
Only the Courts decide whether a breach of Article 2 has occurred, and the courts are separate to, and independent from, the Equality Commission.
Further information on the rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity provisions are set out in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement
Yes. From 1 January 2021, the Equality Commission, and the NI Human Rights Commission, have new powers, including to enforce the UK Government’s commitment under Article 2 of the Protocol.
From 1 January 2021, individuals can bring legal action, by way of judicial review, to challenge the compatibility of the Northern Ireland Executive or Assembly actions or legislation with this commitment.
The Equality Commission, from 1 January 2021, has the power to:
Therefore, the Equality Commission may, from 1 January 2021, be able to provide the following assistance:
- provide advice and assistance, and support individuals to bring legal complaints, where they believe that this commitment has been breached, where appropriate; and
- to bring legal challenges or intervene in legal cases, where they believe that this commitment has been breached, where appropriate.
1. Provide you with legal representation in legal proceedings.
2. ‘Intervene’ or get involved in legal proceedings that you are pursuing.
The Equality Commission also has the power to takes cases in its own name.
In order to ensure that the UK Government meets its commitment under Article 2 of the Protocol, from 1 January 2021, the UK Government created a ‘dedicated mechanism’
, comprising of the Equality Commission and the NI Human Rights Commission. The Commissions, from that date, have new duties and powers, to monitor, supervise, advise, enforce, and report on this commitment.
As the dedicated mechanism, the Equality Commission and the NI Human Rights Commission can exercise their powers and fulfil their duties jointly or separately.
This means that the NI Human Rights Commission can also assist and support individuals to take legal action, and intervene or bring proceedings in its own name, in relation to a breach of the UK Government’s commitment under Article 2 of the Protocol.