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The Court System in Jamaica

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A court is a tribunal or governmental institution with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out administration of justice in civil, criminal and administrative matters. The legal tradition prominent in the Commonwealth Caribbean is that of the common law tradition, which originated in England, the court system of the territories is also influenced by tradition. The courts in the region are modeled on those of England.

The power to create and regulate such court systems, however, is no longer derived from colonizing power, but from the written Constitutions and other local statutory instruments to be found in the territories which have gained independence.

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In the majority of the Commonwealth Caribbean the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sits at the apex of this hierarchy of courts while others have replaced it with the Caribbean Court of Justice (the CCJ).

Consequently, decisions of judgments emanating from the Privy Council or the Caribbean Court of Justice are the most authoritative in the hierarchy.

Next in the hierarchical structure are the Courts of Appeal, then the Supreme Courts or High Courts followed by intermediate courts such as the Family Courts, Resident Magistrates’ Courts and Juvenile Courts which are inferior courts and has the least authority. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council This court is comprised of Law Lords of the United Kingdom and hears appeals from decisions of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica.

Like most of the British Commonwealth, the final court of appeal in Jamaica and the Caribbean is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which sits in England. Decisions of the Court of Appeal in Jamaica can be appealed to the Privy Council. The Privy Council’s jurisdiction extends to most of the British Caribbean. The decisions are by way of advice to Her Majesty the Queen of England who is also Jamaica’s Head of State () The section of the Jamaican Constitution Order in Council 1962 that provides for the Privy Council as Jamaica’s final court of appeal is part 3 sections 110.

Appeals to Her Majesty in Council 110. -(1) an appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court to of Appeal to Her Majesty in Council as of right in the Her Majesty in Council. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) The Caribbean Court of Justice (The CCJ) was established on February 14, 2001 as a regional judicial tribunal. The CCJ is intended to replace the Privy Council as the final court of appeal for all the member nations. The president of the CCJ is The Right Honorable Mr. Justice Michael de la Bastide.

The CCJ has jurisdiction in both criminal and civil cases in the region. The CCJ has been very controversial even among the Caribbean legal community. Opponents of the Court have argued that the CCJ, because it is comprised of local justices will be more biased in the decision-making process than the Privy Council. Advocates of the Court argue that the Privy Council Law Lords are too far removed from the social realities of Jamaica to understand the complexities underlying our legal system. The CCJ consists of jurists drawn from the islands of the British Caribbean.

While implementation of the Court has been completed and it has even began to hear cases, there is some question about its jurisdiction. The Privy Council Board holds that the Caribbean Court of Justice Act passed in Jamaica in 2004 and the Judicature (Amendment) Act 2004 which sought to eliminate the Privy Council as the final court of appeal in Jamaica were both void and unconstitutional because the Privy Council’s status is an entrenched provision in the Jamaican Constitution and as such more would be required to remove the Privy Council as the final appellate court.

The Council ruled that although Parliament was within its power to remove appellate jurisdiction from the Privy Council, it could not grant jurisdiction to the CCJ through an ordinary act. Instead, such a change must meet the more rigorous standards for amending entrenched provision of the Jamaican Constitution. As a result, the Privy Council remains the final court of appeal for Jamaica. The Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal is the court to which all appeals are first referred and its procedure is governed by statute.

It may confirm, overturn or vary judgments in any cases in which there are appeals from any of the first instance courts. The Jamaican Constitution Order in Council 1962 makes provision for the Court of Appeal from section 103 to section 109 103. -(1) There shall be a Court of Appeal for Jamaica which shall have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred upon it by this Constitution or any other law. The Supreme Court The Supreme Court was created in 1880 at which time the original jurisdiction of a number of then existing courts were consolidated into the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is regulated by the Judicature (Supreme Court) Act. It has unlimited original jurisdiction in criminal, civil and constitutional cases. It also exercises an appellate and supervisory jurisdiction. This includes hearing appeals from decisions of the Registrar of the Supreme Court and from the petty session courts as well reviewing the conduct of Coroners’ Inquests and decisions of administrative bodies such as the Industrial Tribunal. In its Geographical jurisdiction the Supreme Court can hear and determine matters arising within the territory of Jamaica.

In some instances where a statute vests extra-territorial jurisdiction on the court, it may hear and determine matters the subject of which arise outside of Jamaica’s territory. The court consists of a Chief Justice and two Puisne Judges, the Chief Justice being President. The two Puisne Judges rank according to the dates of their appointment. All the judges must be members of the Bars of England, Ireland or Scotland for at least five years standing. In 1962, section 13 of the Jamaican (Constitution) Order in Council adopted the existing Supreme Court as the Supreme Court for newly independent Jamaica.

The Supreme Court was then constitutionally established under section 97 of the Constitution of Jamaica. The Resident Magistrate Court Each parish has a Resident Magistrate’s Court with power to hear civil and criminal matters. The jurisdiction of each court extends one mile beyond the border of its parish. Severe crimes such as rape, treason, and murder are not tried by the Resident Magistrate’s Court, but are referred to the Supreme Court after a preliminary hearing. Resident Magistrates preside over a range of court.

Apart from exercising jurisdiction in criminal cases, Resident Magistrates preside over the Coroner’s Court, Traffic Court, Drug Court, Tax Court, Family Court, Juvenile Court and Civil Court. The jurisdiction of the Civil Court is limited to claims not exceeding $250,000. 00. The qualifications for a Resident Magistrate are that he must be a member of the English or Irish Bar, o of the faculty of Advocates of Scotland, or a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of England, Scotland, Ireland or Jamaica. The Courts of Petty Sessions in Jamaica

The Courts of Petty Sessions hear minor criminal matters, such as resisting arrest. Justice of the Peace serve as judges in the Petty Sessions. Justices of the Peace are appointed to each parish by commission from the Governor under the great seal of the island as conservators of the public peace. They derive their power from their commission and their jurisdiction is conferred by various local laws. Generally one of the body is selected by the Governor and appointed Custos. Where there is no Custos the Magistrate next in seniority to him or the Senior Magistrate in the parish.

Cite this The Court System in Jamaica

The Court System in Jamaica. (2016, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-court-system-in-jamaica/

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