Judiciary of the Isle of Man

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Isle of Man
Coat of arms of the Isle of Man.svg

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The lowest courts in the Isle of Man are the Summary Courts, Coroner of Inquests, Licensing Court, Land Court, etc. These courts are presided over by magistrates. There are two stipendiary magistrates, the High Bailiff and the Deputy High Bailiff, along with lay Justices of the Peace.

The court on the next level is the High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man. It has two parts, the Civil Division and an appeal division called the Staff of Government Division.

The judges of the High Court are the Deemsters and the Judicial Officers. The Deemsters are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Secretary of State for Justice of the United Kingdom. The Judicial Officers are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. The High Bailiff and the Deputy High Bailiff are ex officio Judicial Officers, and other Judicial Officers (full-time or part-time) may be appointed.[1] Often they are appointed because they have special knowledge of a complex legal case

Civil matters are usually heard at first instance by a single Deemster sitting in the High Court. Criminal proceedings are heard at first instance before either the High Bailiff or the Deputy High Bailiff or a bench of lay magistrates, in less serious cases. More serious criminal cases are heard before a Deemster sitting in the Court of General Gaol Delivery; in a defended case the Deemster sits with a jury of seven (twelve in cases of treason or murder).[2]

Civil and criminal appeals are dealt with by the Staff of Government Division. Appeals are usually heard by a Deemster (the one not involved with the case previously in the High Court or Court of General Gaol Delivery) and the Judge of Appeal.

Final appeal is to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. This dates back to an ancient right of the Manx to appeal to the Crown of England against the decisions of the Lord of Mann. The right still exists, even though the Lord of Mann is now the Crown of England. The right was confirmed by the Privy Council in their decision of Christian v. Corren in 1716, several years before revestment.

In the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, the Queen's Bench Division of the English High Court can hear appeals about habeas corpus. This was to allow the king to find out why any of his subjects was being impisoned. It dates from before the revestment, applied to all the king's dominions even for all other cases the Kings's Bench was restricted to England.[3]

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