The Judiciary

Chief Justice, The Hon Mrs. Justice Zaila Rowena McCalla, OJ

The legal system of Jamaica is based on British common-law. The administration of justice is carried out through a network of courts. The courts of Jamaica are:

  • The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is the final court of appeal, is based in London, England. It hears appeals on criminal and civil matters from the Jamaican Court of Appeal.
  • The Court of Appeal consists of the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice (who sits at the invitation of the President) and six judges of the Court of the Appeal. A person who is dissatisfied with a decision of one of the other courts, except Petty Sessions, can appeal to this court. Petty Sessions appeals are heard by a judge in chambers.
  • The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is one of the primary institutions of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The CCJ has two core functions − to act as the final appellate court for the CARICOM member states and as an international court ruling on matters relating to the foreign policy coordination of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001) that outlines terms of economic cooperation among CARICOM members.
  • The Supreme Court of Jamaica is responsible for hearing serious civil and criminal matters.
  • At the parish level, the Resident Magistrates’ Courts deal with less serious civil and criminal offences. The Resident Magistrate of a parish is also the Coroner and conducts preliminary inquiries into criminal matters.
  • There are four special courts – Traffic Court, Gun Court, Family Court and Revenue Court. There are also Petty Sessions courts that deal with minor offences and are presided over by Justices of the Peace.