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Saturday, April 29, 2017
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Judiciary

JUDICIARY

Supreme Court; Appeals Court; High Court

Provisions for the structure of the Judiciary derive from both the Constitution and legislation. According to article 120 (4), "[t]he Judicature shall consist of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Justice, which shall be the superior courts of record of Sierra Leone and which shall constitute a Superior Court of Judicature, and such other inferior and traditional courts as Parliament may by law establish ". More precisely, the judicial system consists of a Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and Magistrate Courts, and local courts.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate court of appeal in both civil and criminal cases and has supervisory jurisdiction over all other courts and over any adjudicating authority in Sierra Leone, as well as original jurisdiction for constitutional issues. The Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals of decisions of the High Court in both criminal and civil matters, and also from certain statutory tribunals. Appeals against its decisions may be made to the Supreme Court. The High Court has unlimited original jurisdiction in all criminal and civil matters, as well as appellate jurisdiction against decisions of Magistrate Courts. Magistrate Courts have jurisdiction in summary criminal cases and over preliminary investigations to determine whether a person charged with an offence, should be committed for trial. Local courts have jurisdiction, according to native law and custom, in matters that are outside the jurisdiction of other courts.
According to art. 120 (1) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, the Head of the Judiciary is vested in the Chief Justice, who benefits from the same guarantees as Judges of the Superior Court of the Judicature. However, his supervisory power and more generally the independence of the Judiciary are threatened by section 64 of the Constitution, which merges the positions of Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Thus, functions which are innately executive and judicial reside in the same person.