However, most of the judges believe the laws are 'incompatible' with European rights

The UK's Supreme Court has said it cannot formally rule on whether Northern Ireland's abortion laws breach human rights legislation

However, a majority of the judges believe the laws are 'disproportionate and incompatible' with European rights.

Campaigners were hoping that the seven-judge panel would agree that it was unethical not to grant terminations in cases where there was rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities.

The justices, however, ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission didn't have the legal standing to bring the case in the first place.

However, the judges have also suggested a victim of the laws could be more successful if they brought a challenge themselves.

Currently, abortion is banned in the North in all circumstances "except where carried out in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother".

Anyone who illegally performs or procures an abortion could face life imprisonment under the current rules.

There have been increased calls for reform of the laws in the wake of the Eighth Amendment referendum here.