Bar of Northern Ireland
It is based in the Bar Library, part of the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast, together with the Bar Council of Northern Ireland (the professional body of the members of the Northern Irish Bar), and the Executive Council.
The Executive Council has taken on many of the functions formerly exercised by the Benchers of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, which was established at a meeting of the Bench and Bar held on 11 January 1926.
Before 1920, there was no separate Bar of Northern Ireland: barristers were called either to the Irish Bar or the Bar of England and Wales. After the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland called members of the Bar to the Inner Bar in Northern Ireland as King's Counsel.
From 11 January 1926 there were:
- the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland governed by the Benchers of the Inn; and
- the Bar Council.
The present constitution was adopted on 5 October 1983, and also governs the Bar of Northern Ireland and the Bar Council.
For many years the Inn of Court was a rather theoretical body, lacking as it did the physical premises for social and professional interaction provided by the comparable Inns of Court in London or the King's Inns on Constitution Hill in Dublin. The redevelopment of the Bar Library, officially opened by Her Excellency Professor Mary McAleese, The President of Ireland, on 29 April 2005, to provide not only enhanced library facilities but also suitable rooms for Continuing Professional Development, meetings, dining and receptions, has afforded the Inn the means of providing the Northern Irish Bar with the reality of association it had hitherto been lacking.
- in full, the "Honourable Society of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland"
- comprising all the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and at least nine practising members of the Bar of Northern Ireland
- in full, the "General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland"