Magistrate's Appeals

In addition to hearing criminal cases in its original jurisdiction, the General Division of the High Court (“General Division”), in its appellate jurisdiction, hears appeals from the State Courts. Such appeals are known as “Magistrate’s Appeals”. The relevant legislation on the General Division’s jurisdiction in Magistrate’s Appeals and the procedure to be adopted for such appeals are contained in, respectively, section 19 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act and section 373 to 394 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).

A Magistrate’s Appeal may be brought by either the accused or the Public Prosecutor. It is initiated by filing a Notice of Appeal with the Registrar of the State Courts within 14 days after the date of the judgment, sentence or order being appealed against. Once the Notice of Appeal has been filed, the record of proceedings and grounds of decision will be prepared. Within 14 days of the record of proceedings and the grounds of decision being served or made available, the appellant must lodge the Petition of Appeal with the Registrar of the State Courts, failing which the appeal will be treated as withdrawn. Should the appellant fail to file the Notice of Appeal and/or Petition of Appeal in time, he may, by filing a Criminal Motion in the General Division, request for an extension of time.

After the appellant has filed his Petition of Appeal, a copy of the Record of Proceedings, the Grounds of Decision, the Notice of Appeal and the Petition of Appeal will be sent by the State Courts to the General Division and the respondent. The General Division will then set a date for the hearing of the appeal, unless the General Division summarily rejects the Magistrate’s Appeal (section 384(1) of the CPC). Magistrate’s Appeals are heard by a judge sitting in the General Division. Please refer to the weekly law notice for more information and details of the schedule of Magistrate’s Appeals being heard.

Pending the hearing of the Magistrate’s Appeal, the accused may, if he had been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the State Courts, be released on bail.

The following documents must be filed for a Magistrate’s Appeal:

  • a Notice of Appeal (to be lodged with the State Courts);
  • a Petition of Appeal (to be lodged with the State Courts);
  • Skeletal Arguments (to be filed in the General Division).

Magistrate’s Appeals are open court hearings and may be attended by members of the public.

The decision of the General Division in a Magistrate’s Appeal is final, and there is no further avenue of appeal from the General Division’s decision. However, where a criminal matter has been determined by the General Division in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, a party to the proceedings may, with the leave of the Court of Appeal, refer any question of law of public interest which has arisen in the matter (the determination of which by the Judge has affected the case) to the Court of Appeal (section 397(1) of the CPC). The Public Prosecutor may refer any question of law of public interest to the Court of Appeal, without the leave of the Court of Appeal (section 397(2) of the CPC).