JURISDICTION TO TRY

A. JURISDICTION TO TRY

This is prescribed in S.5(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act Cap 12:01 Laws of The Gambia 1990 as amended by the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2002 It provides that –

“5(1) A subordinate Court may try any offence under any law except the offence of treason.

           

Provided that nothing in this section -

a) Shall derogate from any law which provides that any particular offence shall be triable only by a court other than a subordinate court; or

b) shall be deemed to prohibit the exercise of the power of the Supreme Court to transfer any case for trial by itself or by any other subordinate court, or of the Attorney-General to require that any case triable by a subordinate court be tried by the Supreme Court.”

B. JURISDICTION TO PUNISH

The Jurisdiction of Subordinate Courts to punish after conviction is prescribed in S.5(2) . S.6 and S.7 of the Criminal Procedure Code as amended by the Civil Procedural Code (Amendment) No.2 Act 2002 as follows –

“(2) A subordinate court of the first class may pass any sentence authorized by law.

(3) A subordinate court of the second class may pass the following sentences or both of them –

(a) Imprisonment or a period not exceeding ten years.

(b) Fine not exceeding five hundred thousand dalasis

(c) In the case of young persons, corporal punishment; and any other punishment authorized by law.

(4) A subordinate court of the third class may pass the following sentences or both of them –

(a) Imprisonment for a period not exceeding five year;

(b) Fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis.

(6) (1) If any sentence passed by a subordinate court includes any of the following –

(a) A term of imprisonment exceeding six months;

(b) Corporal punishment exceeding twelve strokes, or corporal punishment combined with a term of imprisonment; an order for payment of money exceeding one thousand dalasis, whether by way of fine, costs, compensation or any combination thereof;

Such sentence shall be subject to confirmation by the Supreme Court;

Provided that no sentence other than a sentence of imprisonment exceeding two years shall be subject to confirmation or imposed by subordinate court of the first class.

(2) Whenever any sentence requiring confirmation is passed by a subordinate court, the magistrate presiding in that court shall cause the following particulars of the case to be sent to the Supreme Court forthwith, that is to say, the serial number of the case, the name of the accused person, the offence with which he was charged, and a copy of the judgment and the order of sentence.

(3) The Supreme Court shall have the same powers in confirmation as it has on review under section 288 of this Code.

7(1) When a person is convicted at one trial of two or more distinct offences the court may sentence him for such offences to the several punishments prescribed therefore which such court is competent to impose; such punishment when consisting of imprisonment to commence the one after the other in such order as the court may direct, unless the court directs that such punishments shall run concurrently.

Provided that no sentences of imprisonment in default of a payment of a fine, whether imposed in addition to a substantive term of imprisonment or not, shall directed to run concurrently;

And any other punishment authorized by law.

(4) A subordinate court of the third class may pass the following sentences or any combination of them –

(a) Imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year;

(b) Find not exceeding one thousand dalasis;

(c) In the case of young persons, corporal punishment;

And any other punishment authorized by law.

6(1) If any sentence passed by a subordinate court includes any of the following –

(a) A term of imprisonment exceeding sic months;

(b) Corporal punishment exceeding twelve strokes, or corporal punishment combined with a term of imprisonment;

(c) An order for payment of money exceeding one thousand dalasis, whether by way of fine, costs, compensation or any combination thereof;

Such sentence shall be subject to confirmation by the Supreme Court.

Provided that no sentence other than a sentence of imprisonment exceeding two years shall be subject to confirmation if imposed by a subordinate court of the first class.

(2) Whenever any sentence requiring confirmation is passed by a subordinate court, the Magistrate presiding in that court shall cause the following particulars of the case to be sent to the Supreme Court forthwith, that is to say, the serial number of the case, the name of the accused person, the offence with which he was charged and a copy of the judgment and the order of sentence.

(3) The Supreme Court shall have the same powers in confirmation as it has on review under section 288 of this Code.”

           

It is clear from the totality of the above provisions, read as a whole, that where a Magistrates Court has the Jurisdiction to try an offence as prescribed by S.5(1) of the CPC, the fact that the term of imprisonment prescribed for the offence by law exceeds its punishment jurisdiction as respectively prescribed in S.5(2) and S.6 CPC will not deprive it of the jurisdiction to try that offence. In that kind of situation, the Court can only punish within its prescribed punishment jurisdiction.

CONCURRENT JURISDICTION

By virtue of S.15(1) of the Courts Act, the Magistrates Courts constituted by or under the Courts Act shall have concurrent jurisdiction with any District Tribunal established in accordance with the District Tribunals Act Cap 6:03 Vol.II Laws of The Gambia 1990, unless express provisions to the contrary is made in the Courts Act or other law.

The exercise of this concurrent jurisdiction is subject to any existing practice relating to the distribution of work as between Subordinate Courts and District Tribunals subject to any general directions of the High Court.[1][7]

TERRITORIAL LIMIT OF JURISDICTION OF MAGISTRATES COURTS

Generally, the exercise of jurisdiction by a Magistrates Court over cases before it is limited to matters arising within the limits of the division for which it is established.[2][8]

The criminal Procedure Code contains elaborate provisions for determining the territorial jurisdiction of a Court to try persons for criminal offences.