Development & Alumni Relations Office 


06 October 2016

Two Queen’s graduates – HHJ Elizabeth McCaffrey and HHJ Mr Neil Rafferty QC – were sworn in as County Court judges on 5 September 2016 before The Right Honourable Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

Ms McCaffrey was admitted as a solicitor in Northern Ireland in 1984 and in the Republic of Ireland in 2002. She is a 1981 LLB graduate of Queen’s and has a Diploma in Advanced European Studies, European Law from the College of Europe, Bruges (1982). She was a Legal Assistant in the House of Lords from 1986-88.

Following her admission as a solicitor, Ms McCaffrey worked mainly in the field of civil practice, principally conveyancing and commercial practice, together with probate work, estates planning and family law.

She has been Principal of a legal practice (Copeland McCaffrey) in Strabane, Co Tyrone since 1992 and was a Non-Executive Director at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry from 1997 – 2001.

Ms McCaffrey also developed a substantial employment law practice, specialising in discrimination law. From June 2007 to February 2013 she was a member of the Law Society Council, where she chaired the Law Reform Committee, the Access to Justice Committee and the Non-Contentious Business Committee.

Ms McCaffrey’s most recent role was as a full-time Employment Judge in the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal (ITFET). Some of the many facets of the role included hearing cases involving all aspects of employment law, from unfair dismissal to discrimination on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, disability, race, religious or political belief or age.

Prior to appointment to this substantive office, she held the office of part-time Chairman (now known as Employment Judge) of the ITFET from 1998 – 2013.

Mr Rafferty graduated from Queen’s in 1989 with an LLB and with a Diploma in Professional Legal Studies from Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s the following year. He was admitted to the Bar in 1990 and practised broadly in all areas of law, undertaking both County Court and High Court work in civil litigation and family law.

He began to specialise more in criminal law in 2000, and since being admitted to the Inner Bar in December 2014 he has undertaken a number of leading briefs in significant criminal cases.

In additional to the criminal law part of his practice, he has diversified into historical and legacy enquiries and inquests. Mr Rafferty was appointed as a Deputy District Judge in 2007 and has gained significant judicial experience in this role.

To find out more about studying Law at Queen’s visit the School website.

Inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office – tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Image © Judiciary NI; caption (L-R): HHJ Elizabeth McCaffrey, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan and HHJ Neil Rafferty QC.


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