Court Structure in Srilanka

Topics: Judge, Court, Appeal Pages: 8 (2473 words) Published: February 14, 2013

The court-structure consists of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, High Courts, Municipal Courts, and Primary Courts. Additionally, there are numerous tribunals, etc. In cases involving criminal law, a Magistrate’s Court or a High Court is the only court with primary jurisdiction; the respective legal domains of each are provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure.    The preponderant majority of criminal law cases are initiated at a Magistrate’s Court. These cases may be initiated by any police officer, or public servant, with a written or oral complaint to the magistrate (see section on Magistrate’s Court).  Murder trials and various offenses against the State originate in a High Court (see section on High Courts).   Original jurisdiction over most civil matters lies with the relevant District Court (see section on District Courts). Until 1972, The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain was the final court of appeal for Sri Lanka. The right of appeal to the Privy Council “was abolished…as there were concerns that any attempt to discard the existing Constitution in 1972 might be adjudged unconstitutional.” There are also other courts such as the Kathi Courts that handle matrimonial disputes among Muslims, and numerous tribunals. 



Established : 1801

Country : Sri Lanka

Location : Hultsdorf, Colombo

Authorized by : Sri Lankan Constitution

Judge term length : Until the age of 65 years

Number of positions : 9, by statute

Website : Supreme Court of Sri Lanka

Motto :"Inspire public trust and confidence

Chief Justice of Sri Lanka : Mohan Peiris

The Supreme Court is the highest and final court of record, and exercises final civil and criminal appellate jurisdiction. Litigants who do not agree with a decision of the original court, be it civil, criminal, or Court of Appeal, may take the case before the Supreme Court, with permission from the Court of Appeal, or special permission from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, however, will only agree to consider cases involving a substantial legal issue. The Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and not less than six, and not more than ten, other judges. Cases that fall under the several jurisdictions of the Supreme Court are exercised, subject to provisions in the Constitution, by a bench of at least three judges of the Supreme Court.  Thus different cases may be heard at the same time by several judges of the Supreme Court sitting apart. Appeals of decisions of a High Court Trial at Bar are heard by a Bench of five or more Supreme Court judges.  The Constitution provides for temporary restrictions on fundamental rights if national security issues are involved. This determination and opinion of the Supreme Court should be by at least five judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, except for in the event of the Chief Justice’s recusal. The Chief Justice’s recusal will result in another judge of the Supreme Court taking the Chief Justice’s place.  The Constitutional Council’s approval is not required if the appointment is for a period of less than 14 days. The age of retirement for Supreme Court judges is 65 years.


The Court of Appeal is the first appellate court for decisions of all original courts and certain Tribunals. The Court of Appeal is composed of the President of the Court, and not less than six, and not more than eleven other judges. Many cases at the Court of Appeal are presided over by a single judge. The Court of Appeal hears appeals against judgments of...
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