CHAPTER 28
SUBORDINATE COURTS ACT

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   Section

PART I
PRELIMINARY

   1.   Short title

   2.    Interpretation

PART II
CONSTITUTION OF SUBORDINATE COURTS

   3.    Establishment of subordinate courts

   4.   General and territorial jurisdiction of subordinate courts

   5.   Appointment of magistrates

   6.   Simultaneous sittings of a subordinate court

   7.   Power and jurisdiction of magistrates

   8.   Trial with assessors

   9.    Seals

   10.   Place of sitting

PART III
JURISDICTION AND LAW

   11.   Courts of Record

   12.   Practice and procedure

   13.   Power to transfer to local courts

   14.   Rules as to application of British Acts

   15.   Law and equity to be concurrently administered

   16.   Application of African customary law

   17.   General power of magistrates

   18.   No power to issue writs of habeas corpus

   19.   Criminal jurisdiction

   20.   Civil jurisdiction of subordinate courts of the first class

   21.   Civil jurisdiction of subordinate courts of second class

   22.   Civil jurisdiction of subordinate courts of third class

   23.   Where question of title to land is in issue

   24.   Extension of jurisdiction

PART IV
SITTINGS AND DISTRIBUTION OF BUSINESS

   25.   Sittings

   26.   Adjournment in absence of Magistrate

   27.   Power of courts to transfer cases

   27A.   Completion of proceedings

PART V
APPEALS

A-APPEALS IN CIVIL CASES

   28.   Civil appeals

   29.   Wrong ruling as to sufficiency of stamp

   30.   Power to reserve question of law for opinion of High Court

   31.   Conditions precedent to appeal

   32.   Discretionary power of High Court

B-APPEALS IN CRIMINAL CASES

   33.   Right of appeal in criminal cases

PART VI
OFFICERS OF SUBORDINATE COURTS

   34.   Clerk of the court

   35.   Duties of clerk of the court

   36.   Taxing Master

   37.   Oath

PART VII
CONTEMPT OF COURT

   38.   Power of High Court

   39.   When punishment imposed by Magistrate

   40.   Misconduct in court

PART VIII
EVIDENCE

   41.   Summoning witnesses

   42.   Compelling attendance-penalty on non-attendance

   43.   Refusal to be sworn or to give evidence

   44.   Bystander may be required to give evidence

   45.   Prisoner may be brought up by warrant to give evidence

   46.   Allowances to witnesses

   47.   How defrayed

   48.   Inspection

   49.   Witnesses as to African customary law

   50.   A person not entitled to inspection or copy of record of evidence

   51.   Evidence before subordinate courts, recording of

   52.   Perjury

PART IX
COMPOSITION ORDERS

   53.   Power of subordinate courts of first and second class to make composition orders

PART X
MISCELLANEOUS

   54.   Magistrates subject to directions of High Court

   55.   Protection from actions

   56.   Return of criminal cases

PART XI
RULES OF COURT

   57.   Rules of court

AN ACT

to provide for the constitution, jurisdiction and procedure of subordinate courts; to provide for appeals from such Courts to the High Court; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

[1st April, 1934]

Act 36 of 1933,

Act 28 of 1936,

Act 16 of 1937,

Act 22 of 1939,

Act 22 of 1940,

Act 6 of 1944,

Act 29 of 1949,

Act 12 of 1952,

Act 24 of 1952,

Act 20 of 1954,

Act 25 of 1956,

Act 30 of 1956,

Act 22 of 1958,

Act 40 of 1958,

Act 17 of 1959,

Act 28 of 1960,

Act 39 of 1960,

Act 41 of 1960,

Act 5 of 1962,

Act 4 of 1963,

Act 28 of 1965,

Act 20 of 1966,

Act 58 of 1966,

Act 4 of 1972,

Act 11 of 1990,

Act 13 of 1994,

Act 41 of 1994,

Act 5 of 1995,

Act 25 of 1998.

GN 303 of 1964,

GN 444 of 1964,

GN 497 of 1964.

SI 63 of 1964.

PART I
PRELIMINARY

1.   Short title

This Act may be cited as the Subordinate Courts Act.

2.   Interpretation

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

“cause” includes any action, suit or other original proceeding between a plaintiff and a defendant, and any criminal proceeding;

“clerk of the court” includes an assistant clerk of the court or other officer performing, or assisting a clerk of the court in, his duties;

“court messenger” means a person authorised to serve process and levy executions and otherwise execute the orders of the High Court or a subordinate court;

“defendant” includes every person served with any writ of summons or process, or served with notice of, or entitled to attend, any proceedings in a civil cause, and also every person charged under any process of a subordinate court with any crime or offence;

“judgment” and “decree” shall be deemed synonymous terms;

“matter” includes every proceeding in a subordinate court not in a cause;

“perjury” means perjury as defined in section 104 of the Penal Code;

“plaintiff” includes every person asking any relief (otherwise than by way of counter-claim as a defendant) against any other person by any form of proceeding, whether writ, petition or otherwise;

“suit” includes action, and means a civil proceeding commenced by writ of summons, or in such other manner as may be prescribed by rules of court, but does not include a criminal proceeding.

[S 2 am by SI 63 of 1964.]

PART II
CONSTITUTION OF SUBORDINATE COURTS

3.   Establishment of subordinate courts

There shall be and are hereby constituted courts subordinate to the High Court in each district as follows—

      (a)   a subordinate court of the first class to be presided over by a Principal Resident Magistrate, a Senior Resident Magistrate, Resident Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class;

      (b)   a subordinate court of the second class to be presided over by a Magistrate of the second class;

      (c)   a subordinate court of the third class to be presided over by a Magistrate of the third class.

[S 3 am by Act 28 of 1965, 11 of 1990.]

4.   General and territorial jurisdiction of subordinate courts

Each subordinate court shall have the jurisdiction and powers provided by this Act and any other written law for the time being in force and shall ordinarily exercise such jurisdiction only within the limits of the district for which each such court is constituted.

5.   Appointment of magistrates

The Judicial Service Commission acting in the name of and on behalf of the President may appoint persons to hold or act in the office of Principal Resident Magistrate, Senior Resident Magistrate, Resident Magistrate or Magistrate of any class.

[S 5 am by Act 28 of 1965, 11 of 1990.]

6.   Simultaneous sittings of a subordinate court

A subordinate court may sit at different places simultaneously when it is expedient that there should be two or more divisions of that court presided over by different magistrates.

[S 6 am by Act 28 of 1965.]

7.   Power and jurisdiction of magistrates

Subject to the operation of any express statutory provision providing otherwise, and to the provisions of this Act and the Criminal Procedure Code, all Magistrates shall have and may exercise, in all respects, equal power, authority and jurisdiction; and, subject as aforesaid, any Magistrate may exercise all and any part of the jurisdiction by this Act or otherwise vested in a subordinate court, and, for such purpose, shall be and form a court.

8.   Trial with assessors

The trial of any civil cause or matter may, if the Presiding Magistrate so decides, be held with the aid of assessors, the number of whom shall be two or more, as to the Presiding Magistrate seems fit. If such trial is to be held with the aid of assessors, all the provisions relating to assessors, as contained in the Criminal Procedure Code, shall, so far as the same are applicable, apply to such trial.

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