Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the difference between the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the Resident Magistrates’ Court?
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal is the highest Court physically resident in Jamaica. It deals with Appeals from the decisions made in the Supreme Court and Resident Magistrates’ Courts. It also hears appeals from certain bodies such as the Industrial Disputes Tribunal and the General Legal Council. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which is Jamaica's highest Court sits in London. It hears appeals from the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court
The work of the Supreme Court is conducted in a number of different divisions, based on the nature and subject matter of cases to be heard. These divisions are Criminal (Circuit Court); Civil; Commercial; and Review/Constitutional. Specialised Superior Courts in which Supreme Court Judges sit have also been created to complement the work of the Supreme Court. These are the Revenue Court established under the Revenue Court Act in 1971 and the Gun Court (High Court and Circuit Court Divisions)established under the Gun Court Act in 1974. The Gun Court Act was amended in 1999 to include the Western Regional Gun Court, with geographical jurisdiction for the parishes of St. James, Hanover, Trelawny and Westmoreland.
The Resident Magistrates’ Court
The Resident Magistrates’ Court deals with both civil and criminal cases but has limited jurisdiction in the following ways:
1. A geographical limitation in that, cases must be dealt with in the parish where the act took place. The Resident Magistrate has jurisdiction within the parish and one mile beyond its boundary line.
2. Serious crimes such as murder and rape are never tried in the Resident Magistrates’ Court. A preliminary enquiry is usually held before the Resident Magistrate who determines whether there is sufficient evidence to commit the accused to answer the charges. Where it is determined that there is sufficient evidence, the case is sent to the Circuit Court for trial.
Where the amount of money in a civil case exceeds a certain sum, the Resident Magistrate does not have jurisdiction to deal with it.