The UK based Privy Council has reversed its decision to implement a controversial rule which local attorneys say would have violated the constitutional right of Jamaicans to have their appeals heard by the country’s final appellate court.

The Privy Council is Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

In a terse statement posted to its website on Thursday, the court said in light of the responses to consultations on the new rules, it has decided not to proceed with the proposed Rule 23.

Ricardo Brooks reports.


One of the most prominent critics of the proposed rule was King’s Counsel Michael Hylton.

He had written to the Privy Council on behalf of a group of the country’s King’s Counsels expressing concern about the proposed rule change. He’s welcoming the court’s announcement.

Rule 23 would have empowered a single judge to review an appeal where permission has been granted by the court below.

It would have also permitted that single judge of the Privy Council to consider appeals where the appellant had a right of appeal under the constitution.

The single judge would have then been able to decide whether the appeal was without merit.

If that judge decided that the appeal had no merit, the appellant would be invited to send written submissions for a panel of three or more judges to decide whether to dismiss the appeal without hearing oral arguments.

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck had indicated that, in his estimation, the proposed rule would ensure only appeals that have merit would be heard.

But other local attorneys say such a rule would run counter to Section 110 of the Jamaican Constitution.

The section allows appeals as of right or after the local Court of Appeal has determined the appeal is of great general or public importance.

Mr. Hylton says despite the rule change, his personal longstanding objection to the Privy Council being Jamaica’s final appellate court remains.