The Supreme Court of Judicature of Belize is one of three tiers of courts in Belize, the lower ones being the Magistrate's Courts and the Court of Appeal.[1] It is a court of original jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases as well as an appellate court.[2] It is governed by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (SCJA).[3]


The Supreme Court consists of three judges.[2] Under Chapter 7 of the Constitution of Belize, the Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The PM directly appoints the other two judges, known as Puisne Justices.[4] The Supreme Court has had Chief Justices not only from Belize and other Caribbean countries, but from as far afield as Sierra Leone (Abdulai Conteh), Uganda (Samuel Awich, acting) and Palestine (Taufik Cotran).[5][6][7]

Section 40 of the SCJA divides Belize into three districts for judicial purposes, each consisting of two political districts. Section 46 names the place where the Supreme Court shall sit in each district.[3] The districts are:

The Supreme Court holds four sessions per year in each of the three districts, for a total of twelve sessions.[1]

The court of last resort was formerly the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom; however, Belize adopted the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad and Tobago as its court of final appeal in 2010.[8]


Belize's first court house was designed by Gustav Von Ohlafen and built in 1818. The first sitting of the Supreme Court was held therein. An entirely wooden structure, it was destroyed by fire on 17 August 1918; then Governor-General William Hart-Bennett, who had come to render aid in extinguishing the fire, was hit by a flagpole and died of his injuries a few days later. A new reinforced concrete court house was built in 1926 in Belize City.[9] The court also has buildings in two other locations outside of Belize City, namely Dangriga and Corozal Town.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Introduction to the Supreme Court of Belize". Attorney General of Belize. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b "The Supreme Court". Government of Belize. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Cap. 91: Supreme Court of Judicature Act" (PDF). Attorney General of Belize. 2000-12-31. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Structure, composition, and jurisdiction". Government of Belize. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  5. ^ "New judge begins work on Monday". News 5 Belize. 2001-03-28. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  6. ^ "Obituaries: Taufik Cotran". The Times. 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  7. ^ Trapp, Adele (2011-07-29). "Guyanese jurist, Kenneth Benjamin, 56, to succeed Conteh". Amandala. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  8. ^ Humes, Aaron (2010-07-23). "Privy Council substitutes manslaughter for murder in case of Kirk Gordon". Amandala. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  9. ^ "The Supreme Court". Attorney General of Belize. Retrieved 2012-04-19.