The Constitution of the republic of Zambia provides for the establishment of various courts. With reference to the Subordinate Courts; Chapter 28 of the Laws of Zambia provides for the creation of Subordinate Courts in all the districts in Zambia. These are the lower courts and the courts of the first instance.
See the Surbordinate Courts Act No. 4 2018 (Amendment)
Subordinate Courts Act (Principal Act)
- A Subordinate Court of the first class to be presided over by a:
– Chief Resident Magistrate who is mandated to handle a case of NOT more than K 100,000.00
– Principal Resident Magistrate who is mandated to handle a case of NOT more than K90,000.00
– Senior Resident Magistrate mandated to handle a case of NOT more than K70,000.00
– Resident Magistrate mandated to handle a case of NOT more than K50,000.00
– Magistrate of the First Class mandated to handle a case of NOT more than K30,000.00
Section 4 of the Subordinate Courts Act states that the appointment of Magistrates shall be made by the Judicial Service Commission acting in the name and on behalf of the president. Section 7 of the Subordinate Court Act grants all magistrates equal power, autonomy and jurisdiction.
Subordinate Courts are Courts of record and the jurisdiction vested in these courts shall be exercised (so far as regards practice and procedure) in the manner provided by the Subordinate court Act and the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap 89 of the Laws of Zambia. Subordinates Courts are also courts of first instance and they decide all matters as provided for by the Act except for offences of treason, murder, aggravated robbery, election petitions and all matters that involve the interpretation of the Constitution.
According to Section 7 of the Criminal Procedure Code Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia, a Subordinate Court of the first, second or third Class may try any offence under any written laws of Zambia and pass any sentence but;
- A Subordinate Court presided over by the Principle Resident Magistrate and Senior Resident Magistrate cannot pass a sentence of imprisonment of more than 9 years;
- A Resident Magistrate cannot pass a sentence of imprisonment of more than 7 years;
- A Magistrate Class 1 cannot pass a sentence of imprisonment of more than 5 years;
- A Subordinate Court presided over by a Magistrate of second and third Class cannot pass a sentence of imprisonment of more than 3 years.
However, under Section 8 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a Court of any class may promote reconciliation between the parties to facilitate the settlement in an amicable way in less serious offences like assaults and offences of personal or private nature.
Appeals Appeals from Subordinate Courts go to the High Court.
– Subordinate Court Magistrates