A high profile appeal by Christian bakers who were found to have discriminated against a gay customer has been dramatically halted to facilitate an intervention by Northern Ireland's top legal adviser.
Attorney General John Larkin QC has made a last-minute request to make representation in the case about any potential conflict between the region's equality legislation and European human rights laws.
The McArthur family's refusal to bake the customer's order for a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan was ruled unlawful last year.
Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "It is most unfortunate this issue has arisen only two days before this hearing.
"Although we have all tried to see if we could proceed with the case given the amount of work that has been done.
"It seems to us that it is simply not possible to do that without running into some risk of fairness in the hearing.
"We are not going to proceed with the hearing today."