Privy Council Office
Home Contacts Feedback Sitemap Links Freedom of Information Text only Search

I. Commonwealth Jurisdiction 


An appeal lies from the undermentioned countries of which The Queen is head of State and from UK overseas territories as follows.

        (1) By leave of the local Court of Appeal.  The circumstances in which leave can be granted will depend on the law of the country or territory concerned.  Leave can usually be obtained as of right from final judgments in civil disputes where the value of the dispute is more than a stated amount and in cases which involve issues of constitutional interpretation.  Most Courts of Appeal also have discretion to grant leave in other civil cases.

        (2) By special leave of Her Majesty in Council.  The Judicial Committee has complete discretion whether to grant special leave.  It is mostly granted in criminal cases (where leave cannot usually be granted by the Court of Appeal) but it is sometimes granted in civil cases where the local Court of Appeal has for any reason refused leave.

Antigua and Barbuda                         Grenada
Bahamas                                         Jamaica
Barbados                                         St. Christopher and Nevis
Belize                                             Saint Lucia
Cook Islands and Niue                       Saint Vincent and the                                  (Associated States of New                 Grenadines Zealand)                                        Tuvalu
 Note.  Legislation enacted in New Zealand in October 2003 abolished appeals from New Zealand to the Privy Council in respect of all cases heard by the Court of Appeal of New Zealand after the end of 2003.  There are currently (as at January 2005) seven appeals from New Zealand remaining to be heard in the Privy Council.  The New Zealand legislation does not affect rights of appeal from the Cook Islands and Niue. 

The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (in Cyprus)


The United Kingdom Overseas Territories, which include -

Anguilla                                                           Gibraltar
Bermuda                                                          Montserrat
British Virgin Islands                                           Pitcairn Islands
Cayman Islands                                                 St. Helena and dependencies
Falkland Islands                                                 Turks and Caicos Islands



An appeal lies from the Court of Appeal of Brunei to the Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan, in civil cases only. By agreement between Her Majesty and the Sultan these appeals are heard by the Judicial Committee who report their opinion to the Sultan instead of to Her Majesty.


From the following independent republics within the Commonwealth an appeal lies to the Judicial Committee itself.

     1. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

     2. The Commonwealth of Dominica

     3. Kiribati

     4. Mauritius

The circumstances in which appeals may be brought are similar to those in which appeals lie to Her Majesty in Council (see A above), except that from Kiribati an appeal lies only in cases where it is alleged that certain constitutional rights of any Banaban or of the Rabi Council have been or are likely to be infringed.

II.  Domestic Jurisdictions 

1. The Board hears appeals to Her Majesty in Council:

(a) from Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man;

(b) from the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons;

(c) against certain Schemes of the Church Commissioners under the Pastoral  Measure 1983.

2. The Judicial Committee has jurisdiction to hear and determine "devolution issues", that is questions relating to the powers and functions of the legislative and executive authorities established in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the Scotland Act 1998 and the Northern Ireland Act 1998, respectively, and questions as to the competence and functions of the Assembly established by the Government of Wales Act 1998. Such cases can reach the Judicial Committee in four ways.

(1)  A law officer may refer the question whether a Bill, or any provision of a Bill, of the Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland Assembly is within the competence of the Parliament or the Assembly respectively, to be heard in the Judicial Committee as a court of first instance.

(2)  By way of appeal from certain superior courts of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

(3)  Devolution issues can be referred to the Judicial Committee by -

      (i) certain appellate courts, including the House of Lords, and

      (ii) any court or tribunal, if required to do so by the appropriate Law Officer.

(4)  Law Officers can refer to the Judicial Committee devolution issues that are not the subject of current legislation or litigation.

When exercising this jurisdiction the Board must consist only of members of the Judicial Committee who hold or have held high judicial office in the United Kingdom.

3. The Board also has the following rarely used jurisdictions:

(1) Appeals from the Arches Court of Canterbury and the Chancery Court of York in non-doctrinal faculty causes.

(2) Appeals from Prize Courts.

(3) Disputes under the House of Commons Disqualification Act.

(4) Appeals from the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports.

4. Her Majesty has the power to refer any matter to the Board for "consideration and report" under s.4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833.

Related Issues
 Commonwealth Institute

Other Links
 Law Lords
 In this Section
Judicial Committee
New Rules and Practice Directions
Appeal Statistics