The Barbados legal system is founded in British common law. The Supreme Court of Judicature sits as a high court and court of appeal; vested by the constitution with unlimited jurisdiction, it consists of a chief justice and three puisne judges, appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition party. Magistrate courts have both civil and criminal jurisdiction. On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to hear many of the cases formerly brought to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council in the United Kingdom. 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.
The courts enforce respect for civil rights and assure a number of due process protections in criminal proceedings including a right of detainees to be brought before a judge within 72 hours of arrest. The Judiciary is independent and free from political influence.