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- Legal System
Jamaica’s judicial system is based on English Common Law, and comprises the Supreme Court (including the commercial court, gun court and revenue court); the Court of Appeal, the magistrates’ courts (including the traffic courts); the family courts and the courts of petty sessions. The Privy Council in the UK is the final court of appeal. However, there are indications that Jamaica could replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, which was established in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2005.
The governments of a large number of Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, have signed a treaty agreement establishing a Council of Legal Education. The Council sets common education and training standards, as well as operating the three regional law schools; the Norman Manley Law School is based in Jamaica. These law schools issue Certificates of Legal Education (CLE), the necessary qualification for persons who wish to practice law in the jurisdictions covered by the treaty. These courses take two years to complete for those who hold a University of the West Indies LLB degree. Once qualified legal practitioners in Jamaica are styled as attorneys-at-law.
Foreigners are permitted to practice law in Jamaica, if they are holders of a first degree in law, if they have qualified and if they have already have been admitted to practice in a Commonwealth jurisdiction. They are also required to complete a six month transitional course at one of the Law Schools in order to receive the necessary CLE.
The Jamaican Bar Association, formed in 1973 (the same year that the Norman Manley Law School first opened), is open to all attorneys-at-law who are called to the Jamaican Bar. Membership is not compulsory. As of April 2012, there were more than 1,200 members. The aims of the association include the protection of the independence of judges and attorneys-at-law, the improvement of the legal system and the buttressing of the rule of law and human rights.
The Jamaican Bar Association is not a regulatory or disciplinary body. Instead, complaints against attorneys are directed to the General Legal Council, which is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of attorneys’ professional conduct.
Jamaica also comes under the Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA), one of two regional bar associations in the Caribbean covering jurisdictions based on English common law.
Chambers Global 2012 identified DunnCox, Hart Muirhead Fatta, Myers, Fletcher & Gordon and Patterson Mair Hamilton as four of Jamaica’s heavyweights in terms of corporate law.
Information from the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013
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Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes
Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regulations
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