What is Federal Court? What are the criminal jurisdictions of the Federal Court?


Criminal Appeals

In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the Federal Court has the same jurisdiction, may exercise the same powers and may make any order as are had and may be exercised or made by the Court of Appeal or by the High Court.

Section 87 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 [Act 91] confers the Federal Court the jurisdiction to hear and determine any appeal from any decision of the Court of Appeal relating to any criminal matter decided by the High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction.

An appeal may lie on a question of fact or a question of law or on a question of mixed fact and law.

Where an appeal is presented against an acquittal, the Federal Court may subject to Section 88 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 [Act 91] issue an arrest warrant for the accused to be brought before it and may remand him to prison pending the disposal of the appeal or admit him to bail.

An appeal does not operate as a stay of execution on any judgment, order, conviction or sentence pending appeal on such terms as to security for the payment of any money or the performance or non-
performance of any act or the suffering of any punishment ordered by or in the judgment, order, conviction, or sentence as to the Court may deem reasonable.

In the case of a conviction involving sentence of death:
  • the sentence shall not in any case be executed until after the expiration of the time within which notice of appeal may be given or any extension of time which may be permitted; and
  • if notice is so given the sentence shall not be executed until after the determination of the appeal

Section 90 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 [Act 91]

Summary rejection of appeal

90. Where the grounds of appeal do not raise any question of law and it appears to the Chief Justice and two other Judges of the Federal Court that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction and that there is no material in the circumstances of the case which could raise a reasonable doubt whether the conviction was right or lead the Federal Court to consider that the sentence ought to be reduced, the appeal may, without being set down for hearing, be summarily rejected by an order under the hand of the Chief Justice, certifying that the said Judges, having perused the record, are satisfied that the appeal has been brought without any sufficient ground of complaint and notice of the rejection shall be served upon the appellant...

At the hearing of an appeal the Federal Court shall hear:
  • the appellant or his advocate, if he appears;
  • the respondent or his advocate, if the Court thinks fit; and
  • the appellant or his advocate in reply, if he appears;

and may thereupon
  • confirm, reverse or vary the decision of the Court of Appeal; or
  • order a retrial; or
  • remit the matter with the opinion of the Federal Court thereon to the High Court; or
  • make such other order in the matter as to it may seem just and by that order exercise any power which the Court of Appeal or the High Court might have exercised.

Even though it is of the opinion of the Federal Court that any point raised in the appeal might be decided in favour of the appellant, the Court may dismiss the appeal if it considers that no substantial failure of justice has in fact resulted therefrom.

The Federal Court can take additional evidence itself or direct it to be taken by the High Court, if it thinks such evidence to be necessary.

In criminal appeals and matters, the judgment will be delivered in open court and the Federal Court will ordinarily give only one judgment, which may be pronounced by the Chief Justice or by such other member of the Federal Court as the Chief Justice may direct.

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Knowledge Base ID :   1513
Last Reviewed :   March 7, 2014
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