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Chapter 4 of the Laws of Belize - THE CONSTITUTION OF BELIZE

PART VII

The Judiciary

94. There shall be for Belize a Supreme Court of Judicature and Court of Appeal.

95.-(l) The Supreme Court shall have unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law and such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or any other law.

(2) The justices of the Supreme Court shall be the Chief Justice and such number of other justices as may from time to time be prescribed by the National Assembly:

Provided that the office of a justice shall not be abolished while there is a substantive holder thereof.

(3) The Supreme Court shall be a superior court of record and, save as otherwise provided by any law, shall have all the powers of such a court.

(4) The Supreme Court shall sit in such places as the Chief Justice may appoint.

96-(l) Subject to the provisions of sections 33(2), 34(4), 54(15), 69(6), 80(4) and 123(3) of this Constitution, where any question as to the interpretation of this Constitution arises in any court of law established for Belize (other than the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court or a court martial) and the court is of the opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court shall refer the question to the Supreme Court.

(2) Where any question is referred to the Supreme Court in pursuance of this section, the Supreme Court shall give its decision upon the question and the court in which the question arose shall dispose of the case in accordance with that decision or, if the decision is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal or Her Majesty in Council, in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeal or, as the case may be, Her Majesty in Council.

97.-(1) The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

(2) Justices of the Supreme Court other than the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

(3) A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court unless-

(a) he is qualified to practise as an attorney-at-law in a court in Belize or as an advocate in a court in any other part of the Commonwealth having unlimited jurisdiction either in civil or criminal causes or matters; and

(b) he has been qualified for not less than five years so to practise in such a court.

(4) If the office of Chief Justice is vacant or the Chief Justice is for any reason including his absence from Belize unable to exercise the functions of his office, then, until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office or until the person holding that office has resumed those functions, as the case may be, they shall be exercised by the justice other than the Chief Justice, or if there be more than one then by such one of the justices as may for the time being be designated in that behalf by the Governor-General, acting in the manner prescribed in subsection (1) of this section.

(5) If the office of any justice other than the Chief Justice is vacant or if any such justice is appointed to act as Chief Justice or is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office or if the Chief Justice advises the Governor-General that the state of business in the Supreme Court so requires, the Governor-General, acting in the manner prescribed in subsection (2) of this section, may appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court to act as a justice of that court:

Provided that a person may act as a justice notwithstanding that he has attained the age of sixty-two years.

(6) Any person appointed under subsection (5) of this section to act as a justice shall, subject to the provisions of subsections (4) and (6) of section 98 of this Constitution, continue to act for the period of his appointment or, if no such period is specified, until his appointment is revoked by the Governor-General:

Provided that, notwithstanding the expiration of the period of his appointment or the revocation of his appointment, he may thereafter continue to act as a justice for so long as may be necessary to enable him to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that were commenced before him previously thereto.

98.-(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, a justice of the Supreme Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-two years:

Provided that-

(a) he may at any time resign his office; and

(b) the Governor-General-

(i) in the case of the Chief Justice, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition; and

(ii) in the case of a Justice of the Supreme Court other than the Chief Justice, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition,

may permit a Justice who attains the age of sixty-two years to continue in office until he has attained any later age not exceeding seventy years.

(2) Notwithstanding that he has attained the age at which he is required by or under this section to vacate his office, a person holding the office of a justice of the Supreme Court may continue in office for so long after attaining that age as may be necessary to enable him to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that were commenced before him before he attained that age.

(3) A justice of the Supreme Court may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or from any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and shall not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(4) A justice of the Supreme Court shall be removed from office by the Governor-General if the question of the removal of that justice from office has been referred to the Belize Advisory Council in accordance with the next following subsection and the Belize Advisory Council has advised the Governor-General that that justice ought to be removed from office for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour.

(5) If the Governor-General considers that the question of removing a justice of the Supreme Court from office for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour ought to be investigated, then-

(a) the Governor-General shall refer the matter to the Belize
Advisory Council which shall sit as a tribunal in the manner provided in section 54 of this Constitution; and

(b) the Belize Advisory Council shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the Governor-General and ad- vise the Governor-General whether that justice should be re- moved under this section.


(6) If the question of removing a justice of the Supreme Court from office has been referred to the Belize Advisory Council under the preceding subsection, the Governor-General may suspend the justice from performing the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the Governor-General and shall in any case cease to have effect if the Belize Advisory Council advises the Governor-General that the justice should not be removed from office.

(7) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the fimctions of the Governor-General under this section shall be exercised by him in his own deliberate judgment.

99. A justice of the Supreme Court shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance and office.

100.-(l) The Court of Appeal shall have such jurisdiction and powers to hear and determine appeals in civil and criminal matters as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or any other law.

(2) The Judges of the Court of Appeal (hereinafter referred to as “Justices of Appeal”) shall be a President and such number of other Justices as may be prescribed by the National Assembly:

Provided that the office of Justice of Appeal shall not be abolished while there is a substantive holder of that office.

(3) The Court of Appeal shall be a superior court of record and, save as otherwise provided by any law, shall have all the powers of such a court.

(4) The Court of Appeal shall sit in such places as the President may appoint.

101.-(l)The Justices of Appeal shall be 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.

(2) A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a Justice of Appeal unless either-

(a) he holds or has held office as judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court; or

(b) he is qualified to practise as an attorney-at-law in a court in Belize or as an advocate in a court in any other part of the Commonwealth having unlimited jurisdiction in either civil or criminal causes or matters and has been so qualified for not less than fifteen years.

(3) Any power exercisable by a single Justice of Appeal may, at any time when there is no such Justice present in Belize and able to perform the functions of his office, be exercised by a justice of the Supreme Court as if that justice were a Justice of Appeal.

(4) If the office of the President is vacant or he is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office, then until some other person has been appointed to or has been appointed to act in, and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the President has resumed those functions, as the case may be, those functions shall be performed by such one of the other Justices of Appeal as the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, may appoint for that purpose.

(5) If the office of a Justice of Appeal other than the President is vacant, or if any such Justice is appointed to act as the President, or is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office, the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, may appoint a person possessing such legal qualifications and experience as he, after consultation with the President, may deem appropriate to be temporarily a Justice of Appeal.

(6) Any person appointed under subsection (5) of this section to be temporarily a Justice of Appeal shall hold office until his appointment is revoked by the Governor-General.

102.-(l) Subject to the following provisions of this section, the office of a Justice of Appeal shall become vacant upon the expiration of the period of his appointment to that office or if he resigns his office.

(2) A Justice of Appeal may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and shall not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(3) A Justice of Appeal shall be removed from office by the Governor-General if the question of the removal of that Justice from office has been referred to the Belize Advisory Council in accordance with the next following subsection and the Belize Advisory Council has advised the Governor-General that that Justice ought to be removed from office for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour.

(4) If the Governor-General considers that the question of removing a Justice of Appeal from office for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour ought to be investigated, then-

(a) the Governor-General shall refer the matter to the Belize Advi- sory Council which shall sit as a tribunal in the manner pro- vided in section 54 of this Constitution; and

(b) The Belize Advisory Council shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the Governor-General and ad- vise the Governor-General whether that Justice should be removed under this section.

(5) If the question of removing a Justice of Appeal from office has been referred to the Belize Advisory Council under the preceding subsection, the Governor-General may suspend the Justice from performing the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the Governor-General and shall in any case cease to have effect if the Belize Advisory Council advises the Governor-General that the Justice should not be removed from office.

(6) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, the functions of the Governor-General under this section shall be exercised by him in his own deliberate judgment.

103. A Justice of Appeal shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance and office.

104.-(1) An appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal to Her Majesty in Council as of right in the following cases-

(a) final decisions in any civil, criminal, or other proceedings which involve a question as to the interpretation of this Constitution; and

(b) such other cases as may be prescribed by the National
Assembly.

(2) An appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal to Her Majesty in Council with the leave of the Court of Appeal in the following cases-

(a) decisions in any civil proceedings where in the opinion of the Court of Appeal the question involved in the appeal is one which by reason of its general or public importance or other- wise ought to be submitted to Her Majesty in Council; and

(b) such other cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.

(3) An appeal shall lie to Her Majesty in Council with the special leave of Her Majesty from any decision of the Court of Appeal in any civil, criminal or other matter.

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Arrangement of Sections

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