Antigua and Barbuda

Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda

Judicial System of Antigua and Barbuda

The legal system of Antigua and Barbuda is based on English Common Law. The judiciary, consisting of inferior and superior courts, holds the responsibility for decisions over cases. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, with headquarters in St Lucia, is responsible for the administration of justice in its member states, which includes Antigua and Barbuda.

The High Court has 16 judges, two of whom are permanently resident in the country and sit in the court of summary jurisdiction. The magistrates’ court has control over less serious cases. The Court of Appeal is itinerant.  The High Court’s jurisdiction includes fundamental rights and freedoms, and constitutional issues. In terms of the judiciary, the final appellate jurisdiction is currently the UK Privy Council; however there are plans to enable the Caribbean Court of Justice to fulfil this role.

The Privy Council dates back to Norman times and is one of the oldest parts of Government.

These days, however, the Privy Council is simply the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreement is reached on those items of Government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to Ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as Departmental Ministers.

Although members of the Privy Council are appointed for life, only Ministers of the current Government participate in its day-to-day business and they are accountable to Parliament for all matters conducted through the Privy Council. The Ministerial head of the Privy Council Office is the Lord President of the Council.