The Court System
The judicial system in St. Kitts and Nevis falls under the supervisory umbrella of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). The Court is shared by the nine (9) member states and territories of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), namely:
Antigua & Barbuda
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
The Territory of the British Virgin Islands
The ECSC is headquartered in Saint Lucia and is led by the Honorable Chief Justice Madam Dame Janice M. Pereira, D.B.E.
The judicial system in St. Kitts and Nevis consists of the Magistrate’s Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Magistrate’s Court of St. Kitts and Nevis operates in three (3) Districts. Districts A and B are in St. Kitts with two courts located at the Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore Judicial and Legal Services Complex, East Independence Square Street, Basseterre and one court located at the Dieppe Bay Police Station. The District C Magistrate’s Court is located in Charlestown on the island of Nevis. The Magistrates preside over a variety of matters including family matters such as child and spousal support, child custody, domestic violence, criminal matters, debt recovery matters, landlord and tenant disputes, employment disputes and traffic matters. A Magistrate in St. Kitts and Nevis is authorized by statute to award damages up to EC$25,000.00.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court) in St. Kitts and Nevis sits in two Circuits, one on each island. The St. Christopher Circuit is located at the Judicial Complex on East Independence Square, Basseterre while the Nevis Circuit is located at the Theodore L Hobson, Q.C. Court Building, Main Street, Charlestown, Nevis. There are two resident Judges in the St. Kitts Circuit (one of whom deals with criminal matters exclusively) and one resident Judge in the Nevis Circuit. The resident judges are assisted by Masters who are primarily responsible for procedural matters relating to High Court civil cases. Masters travel to St. Kitts and Nevis for hearings, on average, monthly.
The Court of Appeal division of the ECSC is based at the ECSC’s headquarters in St. Lucia. The Court of Appeal is an itinerant court which sits in each of the member states and territories, on average, one week at a time, to hear and determine appeals from decisions of the High Court and the Magistrate’s Court in the respective member state or territory. Each case on appeal is usually presided over by a panel of three Justices of Appeal.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England is the final appellate court for St. Kitts and Nevis. In the event that a litigant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, he/she may appeal further to the Privy Council.
St. Kitts and Nevis is a signatory to the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and its citizens and residents are entitled to access the CCJ in its original jurisdiction. In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ has exclusive jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (which established the Caribbean Community or CARICOM)