Wednesday 16 March 2016




Summary of Judgment


The Court of Appeal today determined that the Northern Ireland Minister of Health is the correct person to make a decision on the appropriate deferral period from giving blood for males who have sex with other males.  It held that the Minister’s approach in 2011 in maintaining the status quo (permanent ban) pending further consideration and investigation of the issue was not irrational or biased.  The Court of Appeal differed on the question of whether the maintenance of a permanent deferral was disproportionate and contrary to EU law with two of the judges concluding that it is for the Minister to reach this decision. 


On 11 October 2013, Mr Justice Treacy allowed an application for judicial review of the decision of the Minister for Health not to alter the lifetime ban on males who have sex with other males (“MSM”) so as to adopt a position consonant with that which now applies throughout the rest of the United Kingdom where MSM are subject to a one year deferral period.  The judge concluded that the Minister was not empowered to make the decision and that the Secretary of State for Health was responsible for the determination of the appropriate deferral periods in Northern Ireland.  He also concluded that the Minister had no power to act incompatibly with EU Law; had no authority to act without bringing the matter to the attention of the Executive Committee which he failed to do; the Minister’s decision was irrational; and the Minister’s decision was infected with apparent bias.


There were a number of aspects of the appeal against the trial judge’s decision:



The Court of Appeal:





1.      This summary should be read together with the judgment and should not be read in isolation.  Nothing said in this summary adds to or amends the judgment.  The full judgment will be available on the Court Service website (





If you have any further enquiries about this or other court related matters please contact:


Alison Houston

Judicial Communications Officer

Lord Chief Justice’s Office

Royal Courts of Justice

Chichester Street




Telephone:  028 9072 5921