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Summary Court (Criminal) Jurisdiction


The Summary Court (Criminal) is the first tier in the Falkland Islands Court System, dealing with all criminal cases in the first instance. The court has jurisdiction to deal with both the sentencing of those who are convicted before it and also the trial of those persons who enter a not guilty plea to the offences before the Court.

When dealing with matters before the Summary Court (Criminal), the practice and procedure is primarily governed by the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Ordinance and the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981.

The majority of the work of the Summary Court (Criminal) comprises of the least serious cases before the court, such as motoring matters or minor public order offences. This is because of the court has limited sentencing powers of up to 6 months custody. Where a defendant is convicted of an offence contrary to the Road Traffic Ordinance or Fisheries legislation, the Summary Court has all the sentencing powers of the Magistrate's Court, which can be up to three years' custody.

Where a defendant is convicted of an offence before the Summary Court, the Justices of the Peace will determine whether their sentencing powers are sufficient to allow them to deal with a case. If they believe that the offence or combination of offences is so serious that their sentencing powers are insufficient then they will commit the defendant to be dealt with before the Magistrate's Court. The Justices of the Peace make this decision based on information presented to the court by the prosecution lawyer and the defence lawyer / defendant. The court will hear about the circumstances of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender. 

The Justices may also decide that a matter should be dealt with by the Magistrate's Court because the defendant has other matters before the Magistrate's Court, or there is a co-accused already before the Magistrate's Court, or because the case may involve complex points of law, or because the matter is of particular public interest, or for any other reason that is in the interests of justice.

The types of sentence that the Summary Court can impose are the same as the Magistrate's Court, although the Summary Court is usually limited to imposing a maximum of 6 months custody, or a maximum fine of £5000 for any one offence.  The types of sentence that can be imposed can be found here.

Both the Summary Court and the Magistrate's Court use guidelines from the England and Wales Sentencing Council when deciding what sentences to give. You can access these guidelines online at www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk. For more information regarding available sentences and the sentencing process please see the Magistrate's Court Criminal page, which may be accessed via the drop down menu or this link.

In some cases, the Summary Court decides if a defendant will be kept in custody or granted bail. This may happen if another court hearing is needed or the court needs more information before it can pass sentence.

If a defendant is aggrieved with the decision of the Summary Court they may be able to appeal to the Supreme Court. Further details regarding appeals can be found on the Supreme Court (Criminal) Jurisdiction page and in the FAQ "I am unhappy with the sentence I have been given, what can I do?"