The Supreme Court has two divisions: the high court, which consists of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and 10 puisne justices and has both original and appellate jurisdiction; and the court of appeal (established 30 July 1966), which consists of a chancellor, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and as many justices as the National Assembly may prescribe. The chancellor of the court of appeal is the country's chief judicial officer. Magistrates' courts exercise summary jurisdiction in lesser civil and criminal matters. The constitution of 1980 provides for an ombudsman to investigate governmental wrongdoing. English common law is followed. Although there is an ombudsman, he lacks the authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct. There is no independent body charged with responsibility for pursuing complaints of police brutality or abuse.
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 a total of 14 nations were planning to use the court for appeals. Haiti had agreed to use the CCJ for resolution of trade disputes.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Delays in judicial proceedings are caused by shortages of trained personnel and inadequate resources.