Introduction to the Jamaican Legal System Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:06:56
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Legal Sources -Rules of law are derived from various sources in English Law. These include, The Constitution of Jamaica, legislation, judicial precedents, certain ancient textbooks among others. The Constitution of Jamaica: The Jamaican Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land of Jamaica and all other laws must conform with the Constitution or they will be struck down.1 In 2011 a new Charter of rights was passed by Parliament, known as The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2010 This significantly changed Chapter III of the Constitution. Traditional human rights protected by our old arrangements, such as the rights to life, liberty, property, freedom of conscience, expression and movement remain protected by the new Charter.

Additionally, we now have constitutional rights to equitable and humane treatment by public authorities, not be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, social class or being male or female, to vote in free and fair elections and to be granted a passport. The latter goes hand in hand with the now constitutionally recognized right to leave the island, previously excluded. The Charter provides a number of more modern rights, including the right of every child to public primary education and the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage. These seemingly ambitious rights are nonetheless enforceable by the Charters express provision for redress, not just against the state but also in citizen versus citizen litigation. Claims may be brought by the person aggrieved or by civic organizations with the permission of the court, where there is an allegation that any of the provisions of the Charter has been, is being or is likely to be contravened.

The Judiciary is the branch of government that is primarily responsible for interpreting the law. The Structure of the Jamaican Court System1 The Courts have been given the duty under the Constitution to examine activities undertaken by the State and determine if acts by the State through its various agents are inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore of no legal effect. Acts of Parliament are also subject to review by the Courts to see if there is any inconsistency with the Constitution. The Constitution of Jamaica provides for the establishment of the Supreme Court as a Court of Origination.

Decisions of the Supreme Court upon appeal are heard by the Court of Appeal which is the highest Court physically located in Jamaica, however under the Constitution, the highest Court in the Jamaican Court Structure and the final Court of Appeal from decisions of the Court of Appeal is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which is based in England. There are other Courts that are not created by the Constitution and have been created by Acts of Parliament. The Court System is looked at below. Petty Session The Petty Session Court is presided over by three Justices of the Peace. These are not Attorneys-at-Law. They preside over petty matters. These include pickpocketting, common assault and use of indecent language.

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