07 Oct 2021
REFERENCE : Briefing

You've Got the Power: The use of Legal Powers for Good Decision Making in Public Bodies

Staff and members of Northern Ireland’s public bodies operate under a complex network of legal structures that give them the power to carry out their roles on behalf of our citizens. Unlike a private individual, they can only act within their specific powers.

The legal framework within which a body operates is the ecosystem within which it lives. A sound understanding of legal powers and their exercise can enable you to negotiate confidently with your sponsor Department and stakeholders, take effective decisions and deliver your mission in ways that build community confidence in your work.

By contrast, successful court challenge to a public body’s exercise of its powers or criticism for mishandling of decisions from Assembly Committees or auditors can damage organisational reputation, lead to conflict with a sponsor Department or Minister, and, most importantly, erode public trust.

In this briefing, Claire Archbold, Deputy Departmental Solicitor and Honorary Professor of Practice in Public Law at Queen’s University will provide an overview of the types of legal powers available to public bodies and how to establish which powers apply to your organization. The seminar will answer some of the important questions to ask as you take key decisions and discharge your statutory functions:

  • What statutes contain our powers?
  • What powers do we have to give grants or loans?
  • What powers do we have to make appointments?
  • What powers do we have to make quasi-judicial decisions?
  • Who can exercise the powers?
  • Which powers can be delegated?
  • Do we have a schedule of delegation?
  • Are we a corporation? Does company law apply to us?

Claire will run a number of interactive exercises during this session, and there will be Q&A opportunities throughout.