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CHAPTER 7:13

Supreme Court Act

(Will be amended by the Judicial Service Act[Chapter7:18](No.10of2006)when it comes into operation)

Acts 28/1981, 3/1984 (s. 4); 31/1984, 1/1992, 15/1992; 9/1997 (s. 10).

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

PRELIMINARY

Section

  1. Short title.

PART II

COMPOSITION AND PROCEDURE

  1. Composition of Supreme Court.
  2. Decisions of Supreme Court.
  3. Judge not to sit on appeal from his own decision.
  4. Practice and procedure.
  5. Process of Supreme Court.
  6. Warrant for production of appellant before Supreme Court
  7. Jurisdiction in appeals in criminal cases.
  8. Concession of appeal by Attorney-General.
  9. Prosecution of appeals in person.
  10. Determination of appeals in ordinary cases.
  11. Special powers of Supreme Court in respect of appeals by Attorney-General on points of law or against acquittals.
  12. Powers of Supreme Court in special cases.
  13. Determination by Supreme Court of questions reserved by High Court.
  14. Powers of Supreme Court in relation to order ancillary to conviction.
  15. Supplementary powers of Supreme Court.
  16. Statement of case or question of law arising on appeal.
  17. Time for obtaining leave to appeal.
  18. Detention as unconvicted prisoner.

PART IV

CIVILAPPEALS

  1. Jurisdiction in appeals in civil cases.
  2. Powers of Supreme Court in appeals in civil cases.
  3. Statement of case or question of law arising on appeal.
  4. Effect of judgment of Supreme Court in civil appeals.

PART V

GENERAL

  1. Review powers.
  2. Finality of decisions of Supreme Court.
  3. Sittings of Supreme Court.
  4. Seal of Supreme Court.
  5. Right of person to be present at hearing of his appeal or other application.
  6. Right of audience.
  7. Proceedings in open court and in English.
  8. Administration of oaths.
  9. Officers of Supreme Court.
  10. Rules of court.
  11. Regulatory power to fix fees.

AN ACT to make provision for the jurisdiction, powers, practice and procedure of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe and for the making of rules and regulations in connection therewith; to make provision for appeals from decisions of courts and tribunals in Zimbabwe; to confer powers of review on the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing

[Date of commencement: 28th August, 1981.]

WHEREAS, in relation to the Supreme Court, sections 79 (1) (a), 79A, 79B and 80 of the Constitution provide that—

  1. (1) The judicial authority of Zimbabwe shall vest in— (a) the Supreme Court and; (b) . . . . . . (c) . . . . . .

79A. The judiciary of Zimbabwe shall consist of— (a) the Chief Justice, who shall be head of the judiciary; and

(b) the judges of the Supreme Court; and (c) . . . . . (d) . . . . .

79B. In the exercise of his judicial authority, a member of the judiciary shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority, except to the extent that a written law may place him under the direction or control of another member of the judiciary.

  1. (1) There shall be a Supreme Court which shall be a superior court of record and the final court of appeal for Zimbabwe and shall have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred upon it by or in terms of this Constitution or any Act of Parliament.

(2) The Supreme Court shall consist of— (a) the Chief Justice;

(b) such other judges of the Supreme Court, being not less than two, as the President may deem necessary; (c) such other judges as have been appointed under subsection (3).

  • If the services of an additional judge are required for a limited period, the Chief Justice may appoint a person who holds the office of judge of the High Court or who has held office as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court to act as a judge of the Supreme Court for such period as may be specified by the Chief Justice.
  • An Act of Parliament may provide for the conferring, by way of rules of court, upon a registrar of the Supreme Court, duly appointed thereto, of the jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court in civil cases in respect of—
  • the making of orders in uncontested cases, other than orders affecting status or the custody or guardianship of children;
  • deciding preliminary or interlocutory matters, including applications for directions but not including matters affecting the liberty of the subject:

Provided that any such Act of Parliament shall provide for the right of any person who is aggrieved by the order or decision of any such registrar to have the order or decision reviewed by a judge of the Supreme Court who may, on such review, amend, vary, set aside or confirm the order or decision concerned or give such other order or decision as he deems fit.

AND WHEREAS it is desirable that an Act of Parliament make further provision in relation to the Supreme Court:

NOW, THEREFORE, be it enacted as follows—

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1    Short title

This Act may be cited as the Supreme Court Act [Chapter 7:13].

                       2    Interpretation

In this Act—

“Chief Justice” means the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe;

“civil case” means any case or matter which is not a criminal case or matter;

“judge” includes an acting judge of the Supreme Court;

“judgment” includes a decision or order;

“Minister” means the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or any other Minister to whom the President may, from time to time, assign the administration of this Act;

“rules of court” means the rules of court made in terms of section thirty-four.

PART II

COMPOSITION AND PROCEDURE

                       3    Composition of Supreme Court

For the purpose of exercising its jurisdiction in any matter, the Supreme Court shall be duly constituted if it consists of not less than three judges of whom one shall be—

  • the Chief Justice; or
  • a judge of the Supreme Court other than an acting judge of the Supreme Court: Provided that—
  • except in the case of appeals from decisions of the High Court, the Chief Justice may give directions, either generally or in respect of any particular case, for the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to be exercised by two judges of the Supreme Court, of whom at least one shall be a judge other than an acting judge of the Supreme Court;
  • if an appeal involves a difficult or important question of law or if at any stage during the hearing of an appeal such a question of law arises, the presiding judge of the Supreme Court may direct that the hearing of the appeal or the hearing in respect of that question of law, as the case may be, shall proceed before such greater number of judges than originally constituted the court as may be determined by the Chief Justice;
  • where the Chief Justice or the Minister so directs, in any case involving a question of the application, enforcement or interpretation or an infringement of the Constitution, the Supreme Court shall not be duly constituted unless it consists of not less than five judges of whom either—
    • one shall be the Chief Justice and at least two others shall be judges of the Supreme Court, other than acting judges of the Supreme Court; or
    • at least three shall be judges of the Supreme Court, other than acting judges of the Supreme Court.

                       4    Decisions of Supreme Court

  • When more than two judges of the Supreme Court are sitting together the decision of the majority shall be the decision of the Supreme Court.
  • When there is a difference of opinion on an appeal or application being heard by an even number of judges of the Supreme Court sitting together and the opinions are equally divided, the decision of the Supreme Court shall be suspended until the opinion of a further judge of the Supreme Court has been obtained, and thereupon the decision of the majority of such judges shall be the decision of the Supreme Court.
  • If at any stage during the hearing of an appeal or application by three or more judges of the Supreme Court any such judge dies or retires or is otherwise unable to sit as a member of the Supreme Court or is absent, the presiding judge may in his discretion direct that the appeal or application shall proceed before the remaining judges or that a further judge of the Supreme Court be obtained to sit.
  • In any case in which—
  • a decision has been suspended in terms of subsection (2) in order to obtain the opinion of a further judge of the Supreme Court; or
  • a further judge of the Supreme Court has been obtained to sit in an appeal in terms of subsection (3); the presiding judge may direct the recalling of any witness or order further argument before the judges who originally constituted the court and the further judge.

                       5     Judge not to sit on appeal from his own decision

A judge of the Supreme Court shall not sit as a judge on the hearing of an appeal to the Supreme Court from any judgment given by himself or in which he has concurred or from which he has dissented or in respect of which he has been formally consulted.

                       6    Practice and procedure

In any matter relating to records, practice and procedure for which no special provision is contained in this Act or in rules of court, the matter shall be dealt with by the Supreme Court or a judge thereof as nearly as may be in conformity with the law and practice for the time being observed in England by the Court of Appeal.

                       7    Process of Supreme Court

The process of the Supreme Court shall run throughout Zimbabwe and any judgment of the Supreme Court shall have effect in Zimbabwe and shall be executed and enforced by the High Court in like manner as if it were an original judgment of the High Court.

                       8     Warrant for production of appellant before Supreme Court

When the presence of an appellant who is in custody is necessary or desirable at the hearing of his appeal or he has been given leave to be present at the hearing of his appeal in terms of section twenty-nine, a judge of the Supreme Court may issue a warrant for the production of the appellant at the appeal.

PART III

CRIMINALAPPEALS

                       9    Jurisdiction in appeals in criminal cases

  • The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine an appeal in any criminal case from the judgment of any court or tribunal from which, in terms of any other enactment, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court.
  • Unless provision to the contrary is made in any other enactment, the Supreme Court shall hear and determine and shall exercise powers in respect of an appeal referred to in subsection (1) in accordance with this Act.

10 Concession of appeal by Attorney-General

When an appeal against conviction in a criminal case, other than an appeal from the judgment of the High Court, has been noted to the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General may, at any time before the hearing of the appeal, give notice to the registrar of the Supreme Court that he does not for reasons stated by him support the conviction, whereupon a judge of the Supreme Court in chambers may allow the appeal and quash the conviction without hearing argument from the parties or their legal representatives and without their appearing before him.

11 Prosecution of appeals in person

  • Except where a judge of the High Court has, in terms of paragraph (b) or (e) of subsection (2) of section 44 of the High Court Act [Chapter 7:06], granted leave to appeal, a person who has noted an appeal in a criminal case to the Supreme Court shall not be entitled to prosecute such appeal in person unless a judge of the Supreme Court has certified that there are reasonable grounds for appeal.
  • An application for a certificate in terms of subsection (1) shall be made in such manner and within such time as may be prescribed in rules of court.
  • In considering an application referred to in subsection (2) the judge of the Supreme Court may, if the Attorney-General has given notice to the registrar of the Supreme Court that he does not for reasons stated by him support the conviction, allow the appeal and quash the conviction without hearing argument from the parties or their legal representatives and without their appearing before him.
  • If the certificate in terms of subsection (1) is withheld, the judge of the Supreme Court may—
  • in respect of the appellant, exercise any of the powers conferred upon the High Court by subparagraph (ii), (iii) or (vi) of paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section 29 of the High Court Act [Chapter 7:06]; or
  • in respect of any other person who was convicted after being charged jointly with the appellant, exercise any of the powers conferred upon a judge of the High Court by subsection (5) of section 29 of the High Court Act [Chapter 7:06]:

Provided that—

  • a judge of the Supreme Court shall not exercise any of the powers conferred in terms of subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section 29 of the High Court Act [Chapter 7:06] unless another judge of the Supreme Court has agreed with the exercise of the power in that particular case;
  • paragraph (b) shall not apply where the person who was charged jointly with the appellant has noted an appeal against the conviction or sentence and is to be represented by a legal practitioner at the hearing of the appeal.

(5) Where a case is dealt with in terms of paragraph (b) of subsection (4), sections 59, 63 and 64 of the Magistrates Court Act [Chapter 7:10] shall apply, mutatis mutandis, as if such case were subject to review.

(Subsection as amended by s. 10 of Act No. 9 of 1997)

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