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May 6, 2022

A New Bill will Give Rise to the High Court

The House of Representatives is scheduled to meet next Friday. Among the bills that will be introduced for first reading is the Senior Courts Bill which, once passed, will allow for the restructuring of the administration of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Both branches of the judiciary will fall under what will be known as the High Court. This afternoon, Attorney General Magali Marin-Young and Assistant Solicitor General Randall Sheppard held a presentation to further explain the proposed changes. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The passage of a new piece of legislation, once it has been introduced in the House of Representatives on May thirteenth and taken through all its readings, will give rise to the Senior Courts of Belize. A combination of existing judicial systems, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the restructuring of the courts administration has become necessary. Spearheading the initiative is the Attorney General‘s ministry.


Randall Sheppard

Randall Sheppard, Assistant Solicitor General

“The provisions that are currently under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act and the provisions that are under the Courts of Appeal Act are now replicated in the Senior Courts Bill. What will happen is that upon the introduction of the Senior Courts Bill these two pieces of legislation will be repealed.”


A new Chief Justice will subsequently be appointed as the presiding judge and administrator of the High Court.


Magali Marin-Young

Magali Marin-Young, Attorney General

“The office of the Chief Justice will be a new office, in the sense that our new Chief Justice, under this bill, will sit on both the Court of Appeal and what is now the Supreme Court to be renamed the High Court.”


As it is, both the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal are in acting capacities.


Magali Marin-Young

“They have not been appointed and the reason behind that is because of this anticipated restructuring. Once this bill, and if this bill is successfully passed by the National Assembly, then we will be able to appoint persons to these respective positions.”


New officeholders, including senior judges in the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Supreme Court, the Chief Registrar, Masters and judicial assistants will also be introduced.


Randall Sheppard

“The Chief Justice will be supported by two new positions which will be senior justices that will head either divisions of the Supreme Court which are the civil division and the criminal law division. The position of the President of the Court of Appeal remains, but as I said earlier, the Chief Justice will now be the head of the judiciary and direct and control the direction that both these courts are heading.”


What is equally novel is the removal of marital fault grounds for divorce proceedings.


Randall Sheppard

“In order to get a divorce, you could get a divorce whether it is by consent where you show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, or what we call fault grounds, and the fault grounds would be, you can show that there has been adultery, desertion, cruelty or unsoundness of mind. Going forward, we’re now removing having as a basis for divorce these fault grounds, and so going forward a person who is making a petition to the court for the divorce would only have to show the court that either the marriage has broken down irretrievably or they could also go by consent.”


These changes are being introduced to improve the efficiency, accuracy and consistency in the upper courts of the judicial system of Belize.


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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