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Fiji Courts System Information
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|Pacific Courts - Fiji Islands|
· The final appellate court in civil and criminal matters.
· Has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from all final judgments of the Court of Appeal, with leave of the Court of Appeal or special leave of the Supreme Court.
· Appeals lie as of right:
· from final decisions involving any constitutional question; and
· from final decisions in proceedings involving F$20,000 or more.
· The President may on the advice of the Cabinet, refer questions as to the effect of the Constitution to the Supreme Court for an opinion.
COURT OF APPEAL
· Has jurisdiction, to hear and determine appeals from judgments of the High Court.
· Appeals from final judgments of civil claims lie of right:
· in matters arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation;
· from final decisions involving interpretation of the Judicature Act 1988; and
· from final decisions given in the exercise of original jurisdiction under the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution, including deprivation of property.
Other applications require leave.
· A person who has been convicted on trial before the High Court may appeal to the Court of Appeal:
· against conviction on any ground involving only a question of law;
· with leave of the Court of Appeal; and
· with leave of the Court of Appeal against sentence unless it is one that is fixed by law.
· Any party who wishes to “further appeal” from a criminal appeal in the High Court can only do so if the High Court did not affirm a verdict of acquittal by a magistrates’ court and only if the ground of appeal involves a question of law (not involving severity of sentence).
· Has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine civil proceedings.
· Has an appellate jurisdiction in relation to decisions of magistrates’ courts.
· Criminal appeals may be made in relation to matters of fact, as well as law.
· Magistrates may refer any question of law to the High Court.
· Magistrates are divided into three classes: resident magistrate, second class magistrate and third class magistrate.
· Territorial division of magistrates’ courts is limited to the division in which they are situated.
· Magistrates have civil jurisdiction to hear:
· claims in contract or tort where the amount involved does not exceed F$15,000,
· proceedings between landlord and tenant where the annual rental does not exceed F$2,000,
· all suits involving trespass or recovery of land (other than landlord and tenant disputes),
· habeas corpus applications, and
· application for appointment of guardians or custody.
· Magistrates have a criminal jurisdiction as defined in ss4-9 of the Criminal Procedure Code and in the First Schedule of to the Code. The Code identifies which class of magistrate may conduct hearings in respect of the offence.
· Criminal sentences are also imposed by magistrates according to their class.
· A resident magistrate has jurisdiction to hear appeal from decisions of second and third class magistrates.
* For more information on the court system in Fiji Islands see Jennifer Corrin-Care, Tess Newton and Don Paterson Introduction to South Pacific Law (Cavendish Publishing Ltd, London, 1999) 284-289.