Dispute Resolution In The Bahamas: An Introduction

Published date22 March 2021
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
Law FirmLennox Paton
AuthorMs Sophia Rolle-Kapousouzoglou

The Bahamas is a common law jurisdiction. The legislative provisions of the Rules of the Supreme Court govern the procedure of the Courts in conducting litigation, and common law precedent is also relied on.

The Rules of the Supreme Court mirror the English Rules of the Supreme Court which have been superseded by the Civil Procedure Rules. The Bahamas is moving towards enacting Civil Procedure Rules which would result in changes to the case management process and a shift in procedure in some instances, enabling swifter resolution of cases that can be resolved without the need to progress to trial and with the ability for greater sanctions for non-compliance with the Rules which bind parties to progressing cases towards trial.

Civil cases are heard by the Supreme Court and appeals may be made to the Court of Appeal. The Judicial Council of the Privy Council is the court of final appeal. As a result, decisions of the Privy Council are highly persuasive save for where there is a difference in statutory provisions. The Bahamas Judiciary is comprised of one Chief Justice and fifteen Supreme Court Justices. There are five Justices of Appeal. This is a significant number of judges for an offshore centre and assists the court system in functioning efficiently. The Bahamas Bar is comprised of over one thousand attorneys, a number of whom have experience before the Court of Appeal and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, court hearings including trials and contentious interlocutory applications have been argued remotely. The court system has not been hampered by the pandemic in terms of progressing cases.

Decisions of the UK Supreme Court are binding. Bahamian jurisprudence has therefore developed largely in ways that mirror English law, although in the area of trusts The Bahamas has developed certain statutory enactments such as i) provisions relating to the arbitration of trust disputes, ii) statutory enactment for the common law rule of Hastings Bass in order to declare the exercise of a fiduciary power void or voidable, iii) statutory limitations to disclosing information to a discretionary beneficiary.

In the area of insolvency the relief which...

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