ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT
The following statutes provide for activities in the ministry of justice that would generate documents to which the access to information act applies.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE STATUTORY RESPONSIBLIES
ADMINISTRATOR GENERAL’S ACT
The Estate of Persons who die intestate, that is, without having made a will or leaving a will that dose not comply with requirements of the wills Act, are administered in accordance with the Intestates Estate and Property Charge Act.
The Administrator General is entitle to grant of letter of Administration by the Court where the beneficiaries are minors or are incapable by reason of mental disorder to take charge of their affairs.
The Supreme Court exercises supervisory jurisdiction over the office. This office is an Executive Agency responsible to the Ministry of Justice who reports to Parliament.
See also: The Wills Act and Intestates Estates and Property Charges Act
Trustees, Attorneys and Executive (Accounts and General) Act
AFFILIATION ACT (1926)
This law provides for the determination of the relationship of father and child out of wedlock and for the making of order for the maintenance and education of children in those circumstances.
The Minister is required to make Rules and prescribe forms for carrying into effect the provisions of the Act.
See also:- The Status of Children Act and Maintenance Act.
ATTESTATION OF INSTRUMENTS (FACILITIES) ACT
Authorizes Justices of the Peace generally to administer oaths and attest to instruments (documents) at any place in the Island whether or not the subject matter of the document arises in the parish to which the Justice of Peace is appointed.
See :- Justice of the Peace Jurisdiction Act, Justices of Peace (Appeals) Act, Voluntary Declaration Act
BAIL ACT (2000)
Significant reform measures to replace the existing system at common law whereby bail is granted at discretion of relevant authorities. New provisions in recognition of correlation between bail and presumption in innocence. Law confers right to bail to persons charges with non-imprisonable offences, subject to specified exceptions.
Provisions for grant of bail to persons charged or convicted of offences, stating matters to be considered in deciding whether or not grant bail, the circumstances under which it may be denied, periodic review of unrepresented persons who are denied bail and those unable to take up bail, requiring relevant authorities to give faculties as bail centres.
The Ministry may declare a facility as a bail centre for the purpose.
See also the Jamaica Constabulary Force Act
Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act.
CORRUPTON (PREVENTION) ACT (2000)
Provides for the repeal and replacement of the 1931 Statute and to widen scope of that Act to reflect the obligations under the Convention.
THE CORONERS ACT 1900
The Office of the coroner is established by this law in every parish in Jamaica. The Resident Magistrate for the parish is, ex offico, the coroner. Whenever a death occurs in circumstances where there is reasonable cause to suspect that the person died a violent unnatural or sudden, death or in a Correctional Centre, a post –mortem examination report along with statements and reports prepared by the police, upon investigation into the death, are submitted to the coroner. The coroner will either:-
(1) Abstain from holding an inquest; or
(2) Hold an inquest with a jury or without a jury.
The result of the inquest is recorded by the Registrar General. The Director of Public Prosecutions must also be informed and have transmitted to him by the Coroner, statements, deposition and reports concerning the death.
The Coroner is required to make quarterly returns to the Minister, of all cases reported to him under the Coroner Act.
The Minister is empowered to prohibit the holding of inquests in institutions during the prevalence of any endemic or epidemic disease.
See Registration of Births and Death Act.
COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION ACT
This Act embodies the Agreement establishing the Council of Legal Education for the Caribbean region. The Agreement led to law being taught at the regional universities and the establishment of law schools. The Minister is responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the Agreement.
CRIME (PREVENTION OF) ACT
Provides for corporal punishment. The law requires a report monthly by the lower courts to the Attorney General of the cases where such punishment has been imposed. See also Flogging Regulations Act.
THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE (ADMINISTRATION) ACT
Modern approaches to sentencing are introduced into the system by this statute. Among them: -
(a) The well known suspended sentence designed to prevent
incarceration of offenders under the age of 23 years for
most offences upon a first conviction.
(b) Community service orders.
(c) Payment of fines by installment.
The Act was amended in 2001 to empower the court to refer matter to mediation as a restorative justice tool in criminal proceedings.
The court can now also order that a sentence of less than six months imprisonment be served in incremental periods from Friday to Sunday evenings in succession.
Rules and regulations to give efficacy to this important law are prescribed by the Minister of Justice.
CRIMINAL RECORDS (REHABILITATION OF OFFENDERS) ACT 1988
A conviction for a criminal offence can operate in perpetuity with
Adverse effects on the lives of persons who may even have suffered imprisonment, as punishment for the crime, they committed.
The Constitution of Jamaica empowers the Governor General to grant a pardon in respect of a conviction, but this statute creates a regime for the expungement of a conviction at the expiration a period of rehabilitation following imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years for an offence.
A procedure is outlined for application for expungement to be heard by a Board appointed by the Minister, comprised of a judge or attorney-at-law, psychiatrist or social worker and a senior civil servant (Commissioner of Corrections or Commissioner of Police).
The Minister hears appeal from rulings of the Board by dissatisfied applicants.
CROWN PROCEEDINGS ACT 1959
This law abolished proceedings brought by way of Petition of Right and enables the Crown to be sued and to sue in a manner similar to other natural or juridical persons. It generally governs civil proceedings brought against officers of the Crown including Ministers of Government. Proceedings under this Act are instituted by the Attorney General or against him on behalf of the Crown.
DRUG COURT (TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION OF OFFENCERS ACT
The Act’s stated objects are to:
(a) Reduce the incidence of drug use and dependence by person whose criminal activities are found to be linked to such dependence;
(b) Provide assistance to those persons as will enable them to function as law abiding citizens.
The Resident Magistrates in each parish may declare the sitting of the court as a sitting of the Drug Court. The clerk of Court keeps a register of particulars of persons dealt with in the Drug Court. Incentives are provided for successful completion of treatment programmes.
The Minister may make regulations generally for giving the effect to the provisions of the Act.
See also the Dangerous Drugs Act
EVIDENCE ACT 1843
A comprehensive piece of legislation prescribing the rules governing the tendering and admissibility of evidence in judicial proceedings.
Restriction are set out, for example, on parties to a marriage being competent to testify on matters concerning their marriage and being not compellable to testify in criminal proceedings against each other except in specified circumstances.
The admissibility of computer generate evidence is also provided for as well as the statements made by deceased witnesses or witnesses who cannot be located. The Justice ministry has responsibility for monitoring the implementation of this Court related legislation.
See also the Incest (punishment) Act
Extradition is the process by which, pursuant to treaty obligations and the comity of nations, a person found in Jamaica, accused of an offence comity in another state or is at large after conviction for an offence in the foreign state, is arrested and returned to that state.
A request is made by the state wanting to have the person in their country to the Jamaica Government. The extradition proceedings cannot commence unless the Minister issues an authority to proceed to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to commit.
The Minister may refuse a request for extradition on any of the several grounds enumerated in the Act among them that the person accused might “if extradited be denied or restricted in s personal liberty by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions�?.
See the Hague Convention 1950
The Montreal Convention 1971
GUN COURT ACT
This court has jurisdiction in firearm offences wherever in Jamaica the crime is committed. The court has three divisions – The High court Division, that is a Supreme Court Judge sitting without a jury or where with a jury in murder cases as a Circuit Court division and the Resident Court Division.
The Minister of Justice approves the Rules of Court for the effectual execution of the Act and the object thereof. The Rules are made by the Rules Committee established under the Judicature (Resident Magistrates) Act.
See also Firearm’s Act
See also Juvenile Act
“THE JUDICATURE ACTS�?
The Judiciary is an independent arm of the state and therefore consistent with the principles of the Separation of powers, the Ministry relationship with the courts is scrupulously structured and extremely sensitive. The tasks of the Ministry/Minister are mainly to:
(a) Ensuring of equitable geographical distribution of the
Courts, developing a court management information
System, developing a set of court performance indicators
And developing a process to asses and implement means
of alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice
Programmes and specialist courts.
(b) Improving facilities and infrastructure management. This
includes upgrading of court buildings, enhancing efforts
to make the courts user friendly, providing security and
equipment to all courts and ensuring effective asset
(c ) Establish information technology in all court related
offices; re-engineering of manual business processes;
Improving computer literacy among court officials.
(d) To focus on educating court users, community outreach
and victim support programmes.
*Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act
*Judicature (Family Court) Act
*Judicature (Resident Magistrates) Act
*Judicatures (Revenue Court) Act
*Judicature (Supreme Court) Act
These statutes, in the main, prescribe the jurisdiction and composition of the courts name in their shot title.
The Supreme Court and court of Appeal are superior courts of record.
The Family court has jurisdiction in affiliation, adoption of children, maintenance, married women property and the juvenile cases.
The Minister of Justice may by order add other matters to the courts jurisdiction, subject to affirmation by Parliament.
In the Resident Magistrate Courts the Clerk of Courts is the person who must conduct the prosecution of criminal cases except where the director of Public Prosecution appears for the prosecution.
The Minister may specify what classes of offences the clerk of courts can conduct. In addition, the Minister may, by order, require magistrate in certain offences to record in the notes of evidence at a trial a statement, in summary, of the magistrate’s findings of fact on which a verdict of guilty is founded.
The Revenue court hears appeals or other cases brought to the court under the customs Act, Bauxite (Production Levy) Act and other revenue legislation.
The Minister may by order, subject to affirmative resolution, alter
The list of matter in which the court has jurisdiction.
This Statute provides for the salaries, pensions and allowances for members of the Judiciary, that is judges appointed pursuant to the constitution.
The Minister of Justice is required to appoint a Commission every three years to enquire into the adequacy of emoluments payable to the judges and make recommendations as they consider appropriate.
The Minister of Finance, based on the recommendations, may by way of resolution in Parliament increase the emoluments.
The Minister of Justice has the authority to make regulations generally for the carrying out of the provision of the Act.
JUDICATURE (RULES OF COURT) ACT
The Rule Committee is established under this Law. The Committee determines the practice and procedure in the Supreme Court and court of Appeal.
Five member of the committee are appointed by the Minister of Justice from persons nominated by the bar. The Rule Committee responsible for framing the rules used in the Resident Magistrate’s Court, is appointed by the Minister.
See also the Civil Procedure Rules 2002
Judicature (Resident Magistrate’s court) Act
JUDICATURE (SUPREME COURT)
ADDITIONAL POWERS OF REGISTRAR ACT 1948
The Registrar of the Supreme Court is empowered under this law to hear and determine some matters that are non-contentions and not involving complex issues that are better heard in open court before a judge, example, application for probate or letters of administration.
The list of matters that can be heard by the Registrar can be amended by the Minister of Justice.
JUDICATURE (TRUST CORPORATION) ACT
The Minister may declare a corporate body as being entitled to act as Executor or administrator of the Estate of a deceased person.
Judicature proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act.
Restricting the publication of particulars revealed in some judicial proceedings. E.g. Divorce.
This Act provides for the process of selecting jurors, compelling their attendance at court and how they serve in that capacity in criminal and civil cases. The Minister by order make provisions for the payment of subsistence allowances to jurors and may make regulations forgiving effect to the purposes and provisions of this Act.
See also Coroners Act
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE (APPEALS) ACT 1857
A Judge of the Supreme Court sitting in the Circuit Court of a parish is constituted as the Appeal court for the purpose of hearing appeals from decisions of justices of the peace sitting in a court of Petty Sessions.
See also Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act
A juvenile is defined as a person who has not attained the age of 17 year. This Act deals with juvenile who comes in conflict with the law or those who seek the protection of the law.
The Act defines the age of criminal responsibility to be twelve. It is presided over by a Resident Magistrate who is the Chairman and two Justices appointed by the Minister.
The Minister is required to determine the place in a parish where the juvenile court sits.
The Child Care and Protection Bill will replace the Juvenile Act.
LAW REFORM (AGE OF MAJORITY) ACT
This Act was passed n 1979 to reduce the age of majority from 21 to 18. Henceforth all persons upon attaining the age of 18 year are of full age and capacity.
The minister of Justice is responsible for the operation of this Act.
LAW REVISION ACT, 1969
The Law commissioners are appointed under this Act and their duty is to cause to be prepared, maintained and publish revised editions of the Law of Jamaica.
The Minister, by order determines what pages are to be included in the Revised Laws of Jamaica.
LEGAL PROFESSION ACT
This Act prescribes the rules governing the admission of persons to the legal profession and the practice of law in Jamaica.
The General Legal Council is the profession’s governing body. It establishes a number of committees including a disciplinary Committee that hears complaints against Attorneys-at-Law.
The Minister appoints members of the council upon nomination of the Bar Association and Law Societies in the Country and they are joined by the chief Justice and Attorney General who are ex officio members.
Provides for the making of orders by a court for one person to maintain another where there is a relationship of husband and wife, parent and child.
This Act is undergoing reform and a new Bill will soon be tabled in Parliament. The Minister makes rules and prescribes forms to be used for carrying into effect provisions of the Act.
MAINTENANCE ORDERS (FACILITIES FOR ENFORCEMENT) ACT 1987 ( ACT 8 OF 1987)
Where a person liable to be ordered to maintain another under the Maintenance Act is living outside the island, it is not permissible to obtain and enforce an order, unless there is in force, an agreement between Jamaica and that foreign state to carry out the terms of the order. The arrangements are reciprocal and where an agreement has been arrived at, the Minister proceeds to designate the state a Reciprocating State for the purposes of the Act.
The following are the States that have been designated under this Act:-
(1) Antigua & Barbados
(2) The Bahamas
(4) Cayman Islands
(5) Cook Islands
(8) Balwick of Guernsey
(10) Isles of Man
(13) New Zealand
(14) Niue (St. Kitts)
(15) St. Christopher & Nevis
(16) St. Lucia
(17) St. Vincent & the Grenadines
(18) Trinidad & Tobago
(19) United Kingdom
(20) British Virgin Islands
(21) Western Samoa
United States of America Provinces of Canada
Specified States Manitoba
Maryland New Brunswick
New Jersey Newfoundland
Florida Prince Edward Island
California The Yukon
THE MARRIAGE ACT
The voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all other is recognized as a marriage if its solemnization takes place in accordance with the Marriage Act.
A marriage may be solemnized under the authority of Civil Register Certificate, a marriage officer’s certificate, a Justice of the Peace licence or a licence issued by the Minister of Justice.
THE MATRIMONAL CAUSES ACT
Deals with divorce, annulment of marriages, and ancillary matters such as maintenance.
MENTAL HEALTH ACT 1998
The Act has made substantial changes to the law relation to persons suffering from a mental disorder and repealed the Lunatics (Custody and Management of their Estates) Act and the Mental Hospital Act.
The Minister of Justice is required by the Act to have a person who has been detained pursuant to a Governor General’s warrant under the Criminal Justice Administration Act, evaluated by a psychiatrist at six months interval to determine their suitability for discharge from a Correctional Centre.
See also Criminal Justice Administration Act
MUTUAL ASSISTANCE (CRIMINAL MATTERS) (1994)
To provide for mutual legal assistance in criminal matter between Jamaica and other states. This is part of a package of legislation required in fulfillment of Jamaica’s obligations under the 1988 Vienna Convention Against illicit Traffic Drugs and Psychotropic.
Jamaica is a party to the convention and the Minister of Justice is the competent authority for the purposes of the execution of the provision therefore.
See also the Money Laundering Act
NOTARIES PUBLIC ACT 1865
The Government General appoints “fit and proper persons�? as Notaries Public to discharge such duties as the Laws of Jamaica assigns to them.
A notary Public is deemed to be an office of Supreme Court. They mainly attest to instrument that are destined for foreign States.
The Minister of Justice is required to appoint two Notaries Public to frame a tariff of fees for notarial acts and cause same to be published in the Gazette.
RECOGNIZANCE AND SUPRETIES OF THE PLEACE ACT
Provide for the enforcement of recognizances by Bailiff of the Court as fees for executing process issued by the court under this Law.
See all Judicature (Resident Magistrate) Act-
Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act
RIOT ACT 1857
The Act is designed to prevent unlawful assembly of twelve or more persons for the purpose of disturbing the public peace.
Where property is damaged during a riot, the state is liable to pay compensation. A Riot Compensation Authority is established in each parish comprised of the Resident Magistrate as Chairman, the Mayor and the Collector of Taxes for the parish. The Minister may appoint a person to act as Chairman or member where circumstances warrant.
The Minister makes regulation for governing the practice and procedures of the Riot Compensation Authorities.
SPIRIT LICENCE ACT
The sale of liquid, containing alcoholic for drinking is regulated by the Spirit Licenses.
There are seven main categories of Spirit Licences:-
2. Town retail
3. Town off
4. Village retail
7. Club licences.
Applications for licence are considered by the Licensing Authority for the parish at the main courthouse. The Licensing Authority is appointed by the Minister from among the list of Justice of the Peace for the Parish.
A Justice is disqualified form appointed if is in the business of selling or manufacturing spirits.
WITNESSES’ EXPENSES ACT
Witnesses attending legal proceedings whether civil, criminal or coroners inquest and arbitration are entitled to be paid expenses.
The Minister of Justice makes regulation prescribing the rates to be paid to witnesses to defray expenses.