The Government of Barbados (GoB), is headed by the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.[1] Since 9 January 2018, the Queen has been represented by the Governor-General, Dame Sandra Mason, G.C.M.G., K.A.[2]

The country has a bicameral legislature and a political party system, based on universal adult suffrage and fair elections. The Senate has 21 members, appointed by the Governor-General on behalf of the monarch, 12 on the advice of the Prime Minister, two on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, and seven in the Governor-General’s sole discretion. The House of Assembly has 30 members, all elected. Both houses debate all legislation. However, the House of Assembly may override Senate's rejection of money bills and other bills except bills amending the Constitution.

Officers of each house (President and Deputy President of the Senate; Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Chairman of Committees of the Assembly) are elected from the members of the respective houses.

In keeping with the Westminster system of governance, Barbados has evolved into an independent parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy, meaning that all political power rests with the Parliament under a non-political monarch as head of state, which allows stability. Executive authority is vested in the monarch, who normally acts only on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, who are collectively responsible to Parliament.[3] Barbadian law is rooted in English common law, and the Constitution of Barbados implemented in 1966, is the supreme law of the land.

Barbados PM Freundel Stuart announced that Barbados would become a republic before the 50th anniversary of independence in 2016.[4] Barbados will replace the Governor General as head of state with a ceremonial president. However Barbados will still retain association with the crown through membership within the Commonwealth of Nations.

Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are set out in the Constitution and are protected by a strict legal code.

The Cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister, who must be an elected member of Parliament, and other ministers are appointed from either chamber by the Governor-General, as advised by the Prime Minister.

The Governor-General appoints as Leader of the Opposition the member of House of Assembly who commands the support of the largest number of members of that House in opposition to the ruling party's government.

The maximum duration of a Parliament is five years from the first sitting. There is a simultaneous dissolution of both Houses of Parliament by the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister.

There is an established non-political civil service. Also, there are separate constitutional commissions for the Judicial and Legal Service, the Public Service, and the Police Service.


A simplified diagram of the Barbados government

The government has been chosen by elections since 1961 elections, when Barbados achieved full self-governance. Before then, the government was a Crown colony consisting of either colonial administration solely (such as the Executive Council), or a mixture of colonial rule and a partially elected assembly, such as the Legislative Council.

Since independence the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) governed from 1976 to 1986, and from September 1994 – 2008. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) held office 1966 to 1976, from 1986 to 1994, and has formed the Government January 2008 to present.

Executive branch

The Executive Branch of government conducts the ordinary business of government. These functions are called out by the Prime Minister or president and cabinet ministers. The prime minister chooses the ministers of government they wish to have in the cabinet but they are actually appointed by the governor general.


The Constitution of Barbados is the supreme law of the nation.[5] The Attorney General heads the independent judiciary. Historically, Barbadian law was based entirely on English common law with a few local adaptations. At the time of independence, the Parliament of the United Kingdom lost its ability to legislate for Barbados, but the existing English and British common law and statutes in force at that time, together with other measures already adopted by the Barbadian Parliament, became the basis of the new country's legal system.

Legislation may be shaped or influenced by such organisations as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or other international bodies to which Barbados has obligatory commitments by treaty. Additionally, through international co-operation, other institutions may supply the Barbados Parliament with key sample legislation to be adapted to meet local circumstances before enacting it as local law.

New acts are passed by the Barbadian Parliament and require royal assent by the Governor-General to become law.

Judicial branch

The Judiciary is the legal system through which punishments are handed out to individuals who break the law. The Judiciary also settles disputes. The Functions of The judiciary: °To Enforce Laws °To interpret Laws °To conduct court hearings °To hear court appeals

The local court system of Barbados is made up of:

  • Magistrates' Courts: Covering Criminal, Civil, Domestic, Domestic Violence, and Juvenile matters. But can also take up matters dealing with Coroner's Inquests, Liquor Licences, and civil marriages. Further, the Magistrates' Courts deal with Contract and Tort law where claims do not exceed $10,000.00.[6]
  • The Supreme Court: is made up of High Court and Court of Appeals.[6]
    • High Court: Consisting of Civil, Criminal, and Family law divisions.
    • Court of Appeal: Handles appeals from the High Court and Magistrates' Court. It hears appeals in both the civil, and criminal law jurisdictions. It may consist of a single Justice of Appeal sitting in Chambers; or may sit as a Full Court of three Justices of Appeals.
  • The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), (based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), is the court of last resort (final jurisdiction) over Barbadian law. It replaced the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). The CCJ may resolve other disputed matters dealing with the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).


Transparency International ranked Barbados as 17th place (of 179) in the world on its corruption perceptions index in 2010, with only one nation scoring better in the Americas. ([1])

See also


  1. ^ Constitution of Barbados: EXECUTIVE POWER (Chapter 6), Section 63. Section 63 of the Constitution says that the executive authority of Barbados shall be vested in Her Majesty the Queen"
  2. ^ The Queen's role in Barbados, Royal.gov.uk Archived January 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ The Queen and the Commonwealth, Royal.gov.uk Archived February 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Rayner, Gordon.'Barbados PM says island will replace the Queen and move towards republic'.The Telegraph, March 23, 2015. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/barbados/11489936/Barbados-PM-says-island-will-replace-the-Queen-and-move-towards-republic.html, retrieved March 25, 2015
  5. ^ The official Constitution of Barbados (1966) version.
  6. ^ a b "Law Courts of Barbados". Lawcourts.gov.bb. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 

Further reading


External links