Introduction

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The Judiciary of Zambia is an independent arm of the government. Under clause 118 (2) of the Constitution, in exercising judicial authority, the courts shall be guided by the following principles:

(a) justice shall be done to all, without discrimination;
(b) justice shall not be delayed;
(c) adequate compensation shall be awarded, where payable;
(d) alternative forms of dispute resolution, including traditional dispute resolution mechanisms, shall be promoted, subject to clause (3);
(e) justice shall be administered without undue regard to procedural technicalities; and
(f) the values and principles of this Constitution shall be protected and promoted.

FUNCTIONS OF THE COURTS

Clause 119 (2) of the Constitution outlines the following judicial functions to be performed by the courts:

(a) to hear civil and criminal matters; and
(b) to hear matters relating to, and in respect of, the Constitution.

COURT STRUCTURE

The Judiciary consist of the following courts:
SUPERIOR COURTS

  1. The Supreme Court of Zambia;
  2. The Constitutional Court of Zambia;
  3. The Court of Appeal;
  4. The High Court of Zambia;

The Supreme Court and Constitutional Court rank equivalently.

LOWER COURTS

  1. The Subordinate Court;
  2. The Small Claims Court;
  3. The Local Court; and
  4. Courts as prescribed

Clause 122 (1) states that the Judiciary shall be subject only to the Constitution and the law and not be subject to the control or direction of a person or an authority.

According to Section 3(1) of the Judicature Administration Act Chapter 24 of the Laws of Zambia, The President, on recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, appoints a Chief Administrator who is responsible for the day to day running of the Judicature and the implementation of resolutions of the Judicial Service Commission.

The Chief Administrator :-

  • is the Controlling Officer regarding the expenditure of the Judicature within the meaning of the Finance (Control and Management) Act Chapter 347 0f the Laws of Zambia.
  • Keeps books of accounts and other records in relation to the accounts of the Judicature.
  • Prepares and submits financial reports concerning the activities of the Judicature to the President.

Clause140 states that, The President shall, on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and subject to ratification by the National Assembly, appoint the—

(a) Chief Justice;
(b) Deputy Chief Justice;
(c) President of the Constitutional Court;
(d) Deputy President of the Constitutional Court; and
(e) other judges.

Under clause 141, a person qualifies for appointment as a judge if that person is of proven integrity and has been a legal practitioner, in the case of the—

(a) Supreme Court, for at least fifteen years;
(b) Constitutional Court, for at least fifteen years and has specialised training or experience in human rights or constitutional law;
(c) Court of Appeal, for at least twelve years; or
(d) High Court, for at least ten years.
A person appointed as judge to a specialised court shall have the relevant expertise, as prescribed.

The Chief Justice and President of the Constitutional Court shall hold office for not more than ten years and may, thereafter, continue as a judge of the Supreme Court or Constitutional Court provided they are under the age of 75 years.

The Judicial Service Commission is chaired by the Chief Justice. Other members of the Commission include:

  • A Supreme Court Judge
  • The Attorney General
  • The Solicitor General
  • A Member of Parliament
  • The Secretary to the Cabinet
  • A Legal Practitioner
  • President of the Law Association of Zambia