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Rules of Court
Rules of Court are designed to guide the procedure by which the court operates both in its general administration and in the procedure of the tribunal before which a case is heard.
The Judicature (Rules of Court) Act established a committee to make rules in respect of the following areas of procedure:
- The Appellate Jurisdiction
- The Powers of the Registrar
- The Jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace
- Indictments, and,
- Any other law relating to or affecting the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal or an judge or officer of those courts
Rules of Court cover a number of areas including the sittings of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the jurisdiction of the judges of the court when sitting in chambers in both of those courts and any other matter which requires regulation.
One such matter which falls under the jurisdiction of the Rules Committee is the procedure in respect of Court process and the conduct of cases before the court. This area has had much attention from the Committee in recent years.
The Civil Procedure Rules were promulgated in 2002 under the aegis of the Committee. It resulted in a major overhaul of the conduct of civil cases in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. By those Rules the previous Rules of Court, existing from 1879 and the Judicature (Civil Procedure) Law existing from 1889 were repealed and a new system by which the Court assumed greater power over the management of cases came into force.
The Committee is presently considering a similar revamp of the practice and procedure in courts exercising jurisdiction in criminal cases so as to introduce case management in those cases as well.
The Rules Committee is comprised of a number of ex-officio members, namely the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, a Judge of the Supreme Court who is appointed by the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General and the Director of State Proceedings as well as five attorneys-at-law, in private practice, who are appointed by the Minister on the nomination of the Bar Council.
The rulings of the Committee are subject to negative resolutions of Parliament. Such rulings cannot override substantive legislation and where they conflict with such legislation the legislation prevails.