The Supreme Court is the final appellate Court and has exclusive jurisdiction, to hear and determine appeals from final judgments of the Court of Appeal, and original jurisdiction to hear and determine constitutional questions referred under Section 91(5) of the Constitution.
The Administration of Justice Decree 2009 (Decree no. 9) provides for the existence and the jurisdiction of the two appellate courts of the country. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
Appeals to the Supreme Court
Appeals to the Supreme Court can be made either by way of Petition for Special Leave or with the leave of the Court of Appeal in the first instance. Leave of the Court of Appeal is obtained within 28 days from the date of judgment.
Composition of the Court
Pursuant to the Administration of Justice Decree; the Supreme Court consists of:
- The Chief Justice, who is also the President of the Supreme Court.
- Judges appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court.
- Justices of Appeal, and
- Puisne Judges of the High Court.
Time for Appealing
- A 'Petition' and 'Affidavit Verifying Petition' must be lodged at the Supreme Court registry within 42 days of the decision from which the appeal is lodged.
- In the case of Notice of Appeal (leave granted by the Court of Appeal) the appeal must be filed within 42 days from the date leave was granted.
Applications outside the prescribed time
In the event that the time for appeal has lapsed, i.e. 42 days from the date of judgment has passed, the petitioner then has two hurdles: apply for extension of time as well as special leave to appeal.
Appeals in Criminal Matters
The Supreme Court grants special leave to appeal on the following grounds:
- A question of general legal importance is involved.
- Substantial question affecting criminal justice is involved.
- Substantial and grave injustice may otherwise occur.
Appeals in Civil Matters
Supreme Court grants special leave to appeal on the following grounds:
- A far-reaching question of law;
- A matter of great general or public importance;
- A matter that is otherwise of substantial general interest to the administration of civil justice.
Petition for Special Leave & Form of Petition
An application to the Court for special leave to appeal must be made by way of Petition and must:
- State clearly all facts necessary and relating to the Petition;
- Deal with the merits of the case so far as necessary to explain the grounds upon which leave is sought; and
- The Affidavit in Support must verify the allegations made in the Petition.
Security for Costs & Settling of Records of Appeal
- The Registrar must within one month of lodging the appeal notify the Petitioner of the sum to be deposited as Security for Costs, this sum should not exceed $5000.00.
- This sum may become payable to the Respondent in the event the Appeal or Petition is dismissed.
- On receipt of the record of the lower court, notice is issued to parties to appear before the Registrar and settle the contents of the record before compilation by the registry.
- The cost of preparation of the record lies with the Petitioner.
- Submissions are filed as prescribed by the rules in the case of both appeals and Petitions for Special Leave.
Call over of Cases
- During the call over, cases are fixed at least 42 days prior to the first date of hearing. This is to enable compliance of rules in respect of filing of submissions.
- The submissions must not exceed 25 pages of typewritten notes.
- There is no right of reply to the respondents' submissions.
Oral Arguments - Time Limitation
- At the Hearing of an appeal each side is allowed to present its case in oral arguments no longer then forty (40) minutes.
- If the court thinks it necessary to extend the time allocated, it may do so, but this must not exceed fifteen (15) minutes.
- A reply to oral argument may be allowed at the discretion of the court for a period not exceeding fifteen (15) minutes.
Process after Disposal
At the conclusion of the case (and delivery of Judgment), the appeal process ends. However as the Administration of Justice Decree provides, the Supreme Court may review any judgment, pronouncement or order made by it.