Bills tabled to allow for right of appeal by prosecution in certain court judgementsThursday, April 22, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck yesterday tabled two Bills aimed at giving the prosecution a right of appeal against certain judgements of the court.
The Bills are The Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act, 2021 and The Judicature (Parish Courts) (Amendment Act, 2021.
Under the present law, the prosecution has no right of appeal against a verdict of acquittal in criminal proceedings, or against the imposition an in appropriately lenient sentence.
The decision has been taken to enact legislation to grant to the prosecution a right of appeal against:
1. A verdict of acquittal in criminal proceedings where there has been an administration of justice offence or where a decision of a trial judge is erroneous on a point of law or a point of mixed law and facts; and
2. A sentence imposed in criminal proceedings, where the sentence is materially less than the generally expected and accepted level of sentence for the offence concerned, having regard to any sentencing guidelines applicable to the offence concerned.
A decision has also been taken to empower the prosecution to apply for a retrial on an acquittal, in certain circumstances.
The passage of these Bills will be significant in that they will result in the codification of certain offences as administration of justice offences. These offences are (i) perverting the course of justice, (ii) bribery or intimidation of, or interference with, a witness, juror or judicial officer, or (iii) perjury, and includes aiding, abetting or conspiring to commit any of those offences.
“This game changing amendment to the legislative framework underpinning criminal justice in Jamaica will bring us in line with members of the Commonwealth like Barbados, Bermuda and the United Kingdom in balancing the interests of justice,” said a release from the justice ministry.
The Bills will remain on the order table for the next two weeks. Members of the public are invited to submit any comments they have before the law is passed.
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