THE BAHAMAS

The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands extending over 500 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from a point 50 miles off the east coast of Florida. The Bahamas’ English-speaking population of just over 330,000, concentrated mainly on the major islands of New Providence (where Nassau, the capital city, is located) and Grand Bahama (where Freeport, the largest free trade zone in the hemisphere, is located), has an adult literacy rate of 95% and an average per capita income of more than $20,000, one of the highest in the region. A parliamentary democracy for more than two-and-a-half centuries, The Bahamas has continued to enjoy political and social stability since its independence from Britain in 1973. The Bahamas’ well-developed economy is driven largely by tourism, which accounts for approximately 60% of the nation’s $7 billion gross domestic product, and a rapidly expanding financial services industry.

The Bahamas is one of the oldest, vibrant democracies in the Western Hemisphere, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations and has observer status to the World Trade Organization. The legal system in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas originates from English Common Law, a system which the country has inherited as a former colony of the United Kingdom. Its laws are complimented by a written Constitution which declares the existence of certain fundamental principles that are observed and enforced and further supplemented by legislation promulgated by Parliament. The Constitution is the supreme law of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to which all other law is subject to the provisions thereof and is responsible for the establishment of the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative organs of Government.

Similar to other common law jurisdictions the Judicial System consist of the Magistrate’s Court, which hear minor civil and criminal matters, the Industrial Tribunal, which hears Labor and Employment cases, and the Supreme Court, which hears more serious criminal and civil cases. Appeals from these courts are heard by the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council in the United Kingdom which stands as the highest appellate court for the Bahamas. Magistrates, Justices of the Supreme Court and its respective Registrars are appointed by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission. The Chief Justice and Justices of the Court of Appeal including its President, are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of The Opposition.