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Up to 1879 the Supreme Court of Judicature of this island was but a Court of Common Law, although under various statutes it exercised jurisdiction in bankruptcy, and in several other matters specifically provided for. In the year above-named it underwent a reconstruction and had consolidated with it the High Court of Chancery, the Incumbered Estates' Court, the Court of Ordinary, the Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, the Chief Court of Bankruptcy and the Circuit Courts.
The Court consists of a Chief Justice and two Puisne Judges, the Chief Justice being President. The two Puisne Judges rank according to the dates of their appointment. All the Judges must be members of the Bar of England, Ireland or Scotland of at least five years standing.
The full Court holds a session in Kingston on the first Monday in February, April, June, August, October and December in each year. A special sitting of the full Court may at any time be appointed by the Chief Justice.
"Except in relation to the matters specified in sections 31 and 32 of the Judicature Law and to causes and matters (other than of an interlocutory nature) under the Divorce Law, a single Judge sitting in Court or in Chambers may exercise the jurisdiction and powers of the full Court : Provided that such Judge may at any time, if he shall think fit, refer any matter before him for the consideration of the full Court."
The following are the Rules (Rules and Orders under the Judicature Law, 1879) with regard to the business of the several divisions of the Court:-
(1.) The duties of the Circuit Courts shall be performed by the Judges by arrangement amongst themselves.
(2.) Business in Equity and for the sale of Incumbered Estates shall be transacted and disposed of in the first instance by a single Judge sitting in Court or at Chambers, such single Judge being ordinarily the Chief Justice.
(3.) Business in Bankruptcy, except the question of the Bankrupt's final discharge when an opposition shall have been entered, shall be transacted and disposed of in the first instance by a single Judge sitting in Court or at Chambers, such single Judge being ordinarily the Senior Puisne Judge.
(4.) Noncontentious business in Probate and Administration shall be transacted and disposed of by a single Judge sitting at Chambers, the sitting Judge being ordinarily the Junior Puisne Judge.
Office: Name of Holder, Salary and other Emolument
Chief Justice: Hon. Sir Adam Gib Ellis, knight, £2,000
Puisne Judge: Hon. Charles Ribton Curran, £1,300
Second Puisne Judge: Hon. Ernest Augustus Northcote, L.L.B., £1,000
Attorney General: Hon H. H. Hocking, B.C.L., £1,500
Assistant Attorney General on Eastern Circuit: S. C. Burke, £400
Assistant Attorney General on Western Circuit: S. D. Lindo, £500
Crown Solicitor: W. Baggett Gray, £820
Office: Name of Holder
Judge and Commissary: : Hon. Sir Adam Gib Ellis, knight, Chief Justice of Jamaica
Deputy Judge: Hon. Charles Ribton Curran
Registrar: Thomas Hendrick
Marshal: Henry Maxwell Hall
Surrogate: Thomas Hendrick
Surrogate: Walter Fitch Langley
On the coming into operation on the 2nd April, 1888, of Law 43 of 1887, the Resident Magistrates Law, 1887, the District Courts which had been in operation since the year 1867, ceased to exist. Under this law the Resident Magistrate not only presides in the Court of Petty Sessions but holds a Court of his own, where he sits alone. Almost the same jurisdiction as that of the former District Courts is conferred upon the Resident Magistrates Court, and it is the Intermediate Court between the Supreme Court and the Courts of Petty Sessions. There is a Resident Magistrate for each parish of the island.
Every Resident Magistrate is Coroner for the parish in which he is located.
The qualifications for a Resident Magistrate are that he must be a member of the English or Irish Bar, or of the Faculty of Advocates of Scotland, or a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of England, Scotland, Ireland or Jamaica, or a Writer to the Signet of Scotland.
The Resident Magistrates Law also provides for the appointment of Clerks to the Courts in the several parishes, whose qualifications are the same as those of a Resident Magistrate, of Assistant Clerks of the Courts and of Bailiffs of the Resident Magistrates Courts.
Petty Sessions Courts were established in this island shortly after the Conquest when the judicatories for the peace and good order of the island were settled. They are constituted as in England. Justices of the Peace are appointed to each parish by commission from the Governor under the great seal of the island as conservators of the public peace. They derive their power from their commission and their jurisdiction is conferred by various local laws. Generally one of the body is selected by the Governor and appointed Custos--an office similar to that of Custos Rotu1orum in England. Where there is no Custos the Magistrate next in seniority to him or the Senior Magistrate of the parish and resident in the parish and in the habit of acting as a Justice of the Peace therein, is the individual falling under the designation of Custos. (18 Vic., chap. 31, section 6.) The course of procedure in the Courts of Petty Sessions is regulated by the 13th Victoria, chapters 24 and 35, which consolidate the previous provisions on the subject.
By Section 14 of Law 43 of 1887 every Resident Magistrate appointed under that law is ex officio a Justice of the Peace for every parish of the island.
The Clerks of the Courts act as Clerks in the Courts of Petty Sessions and in the Resident Magistrates Courts and Circuit Courts. They are authorised to take information on oath and to issue summonses, warrants and subpoenas in criminal and quasicriminal cases. The Assistant Clerks possess similar powers when appointed by the Governor to act as Deputy Clerks of the Courts.
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