What is a Justice of the Peace?

The office of  Justice of the Peace or JP has existed for hundreds of years. People holding the office perform an essential public service by dispensing justice within their community; hearing a range of criminal & non-criminal cases in the Summary Court.

The Summary Court is the first tier within our Justice System. It is comprised of :

  •  The Adult Court – for criminal cases involving people over 18.
  • The Youth Court – for cases involving young people aged from 10-17.
  • The Family Proceedings Court – where some family disputes are settled.

Justices do not hear cases on their own. They usually sit as one of a bench of three JPs, together with a qualified Legal Adviser who is there to advise on points of law and procedure.

What cases do JPs sit on?

Criminal Courts

Criminal cases make up the bulk of the work dealt with in the Summary Court.

The Summary Court sits regularly, dealing with the first hearing for all criminal matters, from motoring offences through to murder. Where a matter is too serious for the Summary Court to deal with, it is either sent to the Supreme Court or committed to the Magistrate’s Court.

Family Proceedings Courts

JPs can hear cases in the family court which involve the welfare and upbringing of children.

This can include whether children are removed from the care of their parents and also disputes between separated parents and the arrangements for their children.

Licensing Courts

Justices are responsible for granting or refusing licences to people who want to sell alcohol to the public. 


What Qualifcations Do JPs Have?

Justices of the Peace do not need any formal qualifications at all. Nor do they need previous legal training or experience.  JPs are fully trained and advised by a legally qualified adviser and they are provided with structures to assist them with their decision making, along with guidelines for deciding upon sentence.


Who Can Be A JP In The Falkland Islands?

To be a JP in the Falkland Islands you must be

1) A Commonwealth Citizen; and

2) Aged 18 years or over.

JPs ordinarily retire from the bench at the age of 70 and it is normally expected that a period of five years' service will take place before retirement.


Key Qualities of a JP

There are six key qualities which are regarded as vital for a person to perform successfully in the role of a JP.

Good Character

Personal integrity – respect and trust of others – respect of confidences – absence of any matter which might bring them or the Judiciary into disrepute – willingness to be circumspect in private, working and public life.

Understanding and Communication

Ability to understand the law and legal documents with training and advice – ability to identify and comprehend relevant facts, to follow evidence and arguments – ability to concentrate – ability to communicate effectively.

Social Awareness

Appreciation and acceptance of the rule of law – understanding of society in general – respect for people from different ethnic, cultural or social backgrounds.

Maturity and Sound Temperament

Ability to relate to and work with others – regard for the views of others – willingness to consider advice – decisiveness – confidence – a sense of fairness – courtesy.

Sound Judgement

Ability to think logically, weigh arguments and reach a balanced and just decision – openness of mind – objectivity – absence of bias.

Commitment and Reliability

Reliability – commitment to serve the community – willingness to undertake the required training – ability to offer the requisite time.  

Time Off Work To Attend Court

There is a statutory requirement for an employer to give their employee time off work to attend court as a Justice of the Peace (section 33 of the Employment Protection Ordinance).

The Courts recognise that this can be a challenge for an employer and therefore does all it can to cause as little inconvenience for employers and JPs.


More Information

More information about serving as a Justice of the Peace and having an employee who is a Justice of the Peace is available below.

Guide for Employers

Serving as a JP

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