English common law and local statutory law form the basis for the legal system, which the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, based in St. Lucia, administers; it also provides a High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeals may be made to the Queen's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. A court of summary jurisdiction on Antigua, which sits without a jury, deals with civil cases involving sums of up to EC $1500; three magistrates' courts deal with summary offenses and civil cases of not more than EC $500 in value. The Industrial Court, for arbitration and settlement of trade disputes, was reintroduced in 1976. On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The first session of the CCJ was scheduled for November 2003. Eight nations—Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago—officially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, were planning to use the court for appeals.
The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. The suspect must be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest or detention. The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence. The government respects these provisions in practice.