The islands are divided into three judicial districts, each with its own magistrate's court. Appeals may be carried to the East Caribbean Supreme Court, based in St. Lucia, and made up of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. Prior to 2003, in exceptional cases, appeals were carried to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. 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 were planning to use the court for appeals. Haiti had agreed to use the CCJ for resolution of trade disputes.
The constitution guarantees a public trial before an independent and impartial court. Legal counsel is afforded to indigent defendants in cases involving capital punishment. There are no separate security or military courts.