CJEI Home CJEI Gateway Belize HOME
Back to belizelaw.org

Introduction to the Supreme Court of Belize



About the Supreme Court


Section 94 (Chapter 7) of the Constitution of Belize establishes Belize's Supreme Court of Judicature and Court of Appeal. The judiciary, which is one of the three separate arms of the State, is headed by the Chief Justice, who has overall responsibility for the administration of justice in Belize.

The Supreme Court: has unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law. In its criminal jurisdiction, a Judge sits with a jury made up of 12 members for capital offence cases and made up of 9 members for non-capital offence cases. The Court in its criminal jurisdiction sits 4 times or holds four sessions in the calendar year in each of the 3 judicial districts. The country is divided into three districts for this purpose. These are the Northern, Southern, and Central districts. This is for convenience and for the participation of all citizens as jurors from throughout the country. In this very way, accused persons can truly be tried by their peers, which is a fundamental principle in the jury trial system.

This has been in existence since 1843 and was formally established by section 94(5) of the Belize Constitution on Independence, the 21st of September 1981.

It has unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal matters and any other such jurisdiction and powers as made be conferred on it.

There are three Supreme Court Judges. These are the Chief Justice and 2 other judges, known as Puisne Judges. The Supreme Court's three judges are all male.

The Court of Appeal exercises an appellate jurisdiction over both the High Court and Magistracy and has jurisdiction and powers to hear and determine appeals in civil and criminal matters. While this Court is established with a President and three Justices of Appeal, a panel of three Justices sits at any one time.

The Court of Appeal may sit in Belize 4 times for the year; however, in practice it usually sits 3 times. A lot depends on the number of cases on its calendar.

The present composition is made up of 1 resident Belizean and 3 visiting Justices, including the President, from the Commonwealth Caribbean jurisdictions. The four Justices of Appeal are all male.

The Privy Council, which is the final court for Belize, sits in the United Kingdom. Appeals from the Court of Appeal lie to the Privy Council, sometimes as of right and sometimes with leave of the Court. The Privy Council is made up primarily of members of the United Kingdom's House of Lords. In recent years there have been appointments from the Commonwealth jurisdiction. The membership is predominantly male.

 


Contact Information


About Our Judiciary


  • Population of Country: 294,385 (July 2007 Est.)

  • Total Number of Judges: 26

  • Number of Appeal Court Judges: 4

  • Number of High Court Judges: 7

  • Number of Subordinate Court Judges: 15

  • Expenditures and Estimates:

    Judiciary Estimates

    Programme

    Approved Estimates 2007/2008

    Revised Estimates 2006/2007

    Approved Estimates 2006/2007

    Difference Columns 1-3

    Actual Expenditure 2005/2006

    • General Registry

    • Court of Appeal

    • Supreme Court

    • BELIPO

    • Company Registry

    1,020,517

    3,328,570

    3,328,571

    691,946

    2,586,000

    Magistrate Courts

    1,898,509

    1,871,234

    1,871,234

    27,275

    1,623,049

    Total Recurrent

    5,919,026

    5,199,804

    5,199,805

    719,221

    4,209,049

     

  • Method of Judicial Appointment:
    Under the Constitution of Belize, the Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
    Justices of the Supreme Court, other than the Chief Justice, are appointed by the Governor General. The Governor General acts in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
    Justices of the Court of Appeal are appointed by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, for such period as may be specified in the instrument of appointment.
    The qualification for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court is a minimum of five years standing as an attorney-at-law.
    The qualification for appointment as a Justice of the Court of Appeal is 15 years standing as an attorney-at-law or the holding of office as a judge of a court of unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters or of a court having appellate jurisdiction from any such court.
    Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed with security of tenure and hold office, subject to removal for inability or misbehavior, until the age of sixty-two (62). Justices of Appeal hold office, subject to removal for inability or misbehavior, until the expiration of their periods of appointment or until resignation.


Supreme Court Objectives


The objective of the Supreme Court is to make informed, timely and balanced determination of both civil and criminal matters.


Training and Support Staff

work in progress


Supreme Court Standards


The Supreme Court strives to maintain the highest judicial standards possible. A Judicial Code of Conduct and Etiquette was issued in 2003.


Functions and Supporting Organizational Structure

Judges of the Court of Appeal

  • Hon. Mr. Justice Elliot Mottley President

  • Hon. Mr. Justice Manual Sosa

  • Hon. Mr. Justice Boyd Carey

  • Hon. Mr. Justice Dennis Morrison

Judges of the Supreme Court

  • Hon. Chief Justice Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh

  • Hon. Justice Adolph Lucas

  • Hon. Justice Samuel Awich

  • Hon. Justice Herbert Lord

  • Hon. Madam Justice Michelle Arana

  • Hon. Madam Justice Minnet Hafiz Bertram

  • Hon Justice Sir John Muria

Registrar General

 

Ms. Velda Flowers

 

Magistrates from Belize City and the Districts

 

Belize City

Margaret Mackenzie

Chief Magistrate

Dorothy Flowers

Senior Magistrate

Sharon Fraser

Magistrate

Robert Ordonez

Magistrate

Albert Hoare

Magistrate

Aretha Ford

Magistrate

Ed Usher

Magistrate

Harrison Hulett

Magistrate

Stephanie Gillett

Magistrate

 

Districts

Leslie Hamilton

Corozal

Hettiemae Stewart

Orange Walk

Earl Jones

Belmopan

Kathleen Lewis

San Ignacio

Clive Lino

Dangriga

Emmerson Banner

San Pedro

 

 


Budget / Sources of Funding


The Supreme Court is funded exclusively from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and provisions are made from the budget annually for this. There is however constraints in this regard.


Annual Reports

 

  • Annual Report 2007- 2008 [PDF]
  • Annual Report 2005-2006 [PDF]

  • Annual Report 2004-2005 [PDF]