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Overview

Structure, 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.

The Supreme Court
The Court of Appeal
The Privy Council

The Supreme Court Registry is the court office for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Court documents are filed and processed in the Registry. It is headed by the Registrar who is an attorney-at-law and a judicial officer. She is assisted by 1 Deputy Registrar and 1 Assistant Registrar. They are assisted in their tasks by approximately 20 members of staff, which includes Marshalls and

Deputy Marshalls of the Court. These members of staff are civil servants and are appointed, disciplined, and promoted by the Public Services Commission, which 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.

Functions

In addition to the filing and processing of court documents, the Supreme Court Registry is also responsible for all matters relating to estates, companies, and trademarks. All land matters are handled by the Land's Registry based in Belmopan while the Vital Statistics Unit in Belize City handles all matters regarding births, deaths, and marriages.

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.

Justices 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.

Justices 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.

The qualification for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court is a minimum of five years standing as an attorney-at-law.

The 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.

Justices 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.

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