Applying to the Civil Service and the Special Advocate System

Northern Ireland Civil Service

 The Review Panel’s recommendation that the Northern Ireland Civil Service should adopt the Guidance Principles was accepted. The Northern Ireland Civil Service Recruitment Policy and procedures Manual now reads;

As of 28 September 2016 the NICS has adopted the best practice guidelines documented in the Employers Guidance entitled “Recruiting people with Conflict-Related Convictions” A copy of this guidance is available at

As per the Guidance;

  1. A conflict-related conviction will only be relevant in exceptional circumstances;
  2. In refusing employment, the onus of proof rests with Corporate HR to show material relevance;
  3. To be relevant, the conviction must be manifestly incompatible with the position in question;
  4. The seriousness of the offence is not enough to make a conviction materially relevant;

The basic principle of this guidance is that any conviction for a conflict-related offence that pre-dates the Good Friday Agreement (April 1998) should not be taken into account unless it is materially relevant to the employment being sought. In considering conflict related offences prior to April 1998, Corporate HR will not take these into account if they are not materially relevant to the post applied for. However, if it is determined that a conviction is, or could be, materially relevant and/or is manifestly incompatible with the post applied for then an offer of employment will not be made. This may occur with regard to, as noted in the Guidance Principles, ‘existing legislative obligations and any new guidance which may be developed from time to time as a consequence of the introduction of a new system of employment-related criminal record checks’. A decision to reject an applicant will be communicated in writing to the applicant. Should the applicant disagree with Corporate HR’s decision then the applicant can request a meeting during which they may provide their views and any other supporting evidence regarding the conviction and its relevance to the post. Under the Guidance Principles ‘the candidate may bring along a representative to that meeting and may supply supporting evidence in regard his/her case that the conviction is not materially relevant. The applicant should be given the opportunity to make his/her views known regarding the conviction and its relevance, or otherwise, to the post’. After that meeting has been held Corporate HR will inform the applicant of the outcome and should this outcome not be satisfactory to the applicant they may refer the matter to the Review Panel.

Are you a family member who has been vetted?

If you do not hold a conflict-related or any conviction and have been rejected for Security Clearance, Developed Vetting or Counter-Terrorism check you should contact the Review Panel. They will direct you to the Special Advocate system. This could lead to the appointment of a Special Advocate. This is a person who;

is a specially appointed lawyer (typically, a barrister) who is instructed to represent a person’s interests in relation to material that is kept secret from that person (and his ordinary lawyers) but analysed by a court or equivalent body at an adversarial hearing held in private.