Over View of the Judicary System
composition, and jurisdiction
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Appointment of the Judiciary
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.
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.
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.
qualification for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme
Court is a minimum of five years standing as an attorney-at-law.
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.
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.