Find Legal expertise in Belize
- Legal System
The legal system of Belize is broadly based on English Common Law, supplemented by local legislation. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice, who has overall responsibility for the administration of justice in Belize. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and magistrates’ courts.
Magistrates’ courts can be either district or summary jurisdiction courts. District courts handle preliminary hearings of less serious civil cases, while summary jurisdiction courts are responsible for those of criminal cases. The Supreme Court hears serious civil and criminal cases before judges and jury and has unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law. The Court in its criminal jurisdiction sits four times a year in each of the three judicial districts. The Supreme Court has three judges – the Chief Justice and two others, known as Puisne Judges. The Court of Appeal has appellate jurisdiction over the High Court and Magistracy, and has jurisdiction and powers to hear and determine appeals in civil and criminal matters. The Court has the jurisdiction to sit four times a year, yet in practice it usually only sits three times. Up until 2011 the Privy Council in England was the final court of appeal. Belize effectively replaced it with the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Law professionals are officially known as attorneys or attorneys-at-law. The practice of law is governed by the Legal Profession Act. In order to graduate in law, a Legal Education Certificate (LEC) needs to be undertaken, and as there are no law schools in the country, law education is undertaken in Caribbean island countries Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. The country’s legal services system is insular, with foreigners only having access to the Belizean profession in an advisory role.
Law firms in the country tend to be on the small side, with a series of “one-man shops” dominating the small market – one example being Arguelles and Company LLC. Belize Bar Association is the national bar association which comprises lawyers, judges and magistrates who have been admitted and licensed to practice law in Belize.
Not included in the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013).
|Legal organisations in Belize|
|Barrow & Williams||
|Morgan & Morgan Trust Corporation||
|W. H. Courteney & Co.||