CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN BAHAMAS
This article will provide guidance on the Code of Civil Procedure in Bahamas. Service of process is governed by strict procedures in The Bahamas and internationally to ensure that all parties are given proper notice of pending legal actions. If the defendant may argue that he did not get notice of the claim and that the measures taken in the procedures are invalid, it becomes very difficult to continue with the litigation. The onus is on the plaintiff to ensure effective service of process.
Unless the court directs otherwise, the defendant must be physically served with the originating instrument (writ, originating summons, petition, or motion to commence a case). Having the paperwork personally delivered to the recipient is the norm.
A copy of the served document, including the date, time, location, and name of the person served, and the name and address of the person who served the document must be endorsed by someone not a party to the action. It is also possible for the defendant's attorney to accept service on behalf of the defendant or for the defendant to enter an appearance, both of which have the same legal effect as if the defendant had accepted service personally. Under some situations, a court may approve service on a defendant's local agent if the defendant is an overseas company with a presence in the country.
It may be necessary to serve the defendant outside of The Bahamas if no agent can accept service. In the Bahamas, the law recognizes that this is a typical occurrence and that the court may allow service on a defendant in another country under specific conditions. If the applicant needs to serve the document anywhere outside the court's jurisdiction, they must ask for special permission from the judge.
Several international conventions, including the Hague Service Convention and the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, regulate the service of process in various jurisdictions, and the Bahamas is a signatory to all of them. There are many different nations involved in each contract, which means the service of papers relies on applying the right laws in the right place.
WHO CAN HEAR A CASE IN THE BAHAMAS
All cases filed in the Supreme Court and the Magistrate's Court are done so in the name of the Queen and the Commissioner of Police, respectively. The Magistrate's Court handles both non-indictable and indictable cases on a summary basis. The maximum punishment that may be imposed by a Stipendiary or Circuit Magistrate is five years. In indictable cases, they also undertake preliminary investigations to assess whether or not a prima facie case has been formed against the accused. An individual is committed to the Supreme Court for trial if enough evidence exists to warrant doing so on a ‘prima facie’ basis. For those who have been found guilty after a trial in the Magistrate's Court, an appeal may be taken to either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is the second highest court in The Bahamas, and its decisions may be appealed to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council.
Generally speaking, a judge hears all of the evidence and testimony in a civil case. Judgments of the Supreme Court in civil proceedings may be appealed directly to the Court of Appeal. In certain interlocutory issues and additional appeals from Tribunals, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court may be petitioned for permission.
There must be at least two and no more than four Justices of Appeal and a President to make up the Court of Appeal. The Chief Justice serves as an ex officio member of the Court and attends hearings at the President's request. Judgments, orders, and punishments handed down by the Supreme Court may be appealed to this court, and it will have the authority to hear and rule on such appeals. When it comes to indictable offenses that can be tried in summary proceedings, the Court of Appeal can hear and rule on appeals from the lower magisterial court because [A.] the lower court lacked or exceeded its jurisdiction in the matter; [B.] the lower court's decision was unreasonable, could not be supported by the evidence, or was erroneous in point of law; and [C.] the lower court's decision or sentence was based on a wrong principle;
The Supreme Court of the Bahamas is the country's third highest court. There are a maximum of eleven and a minimum of two members on the Supreme Court: the Chief Justice and the Justices. The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts, such as the Magistrates' Court, and has unrestricted original jurisdiction in civil and criminal causes and concerns. The Supreme Court's decisions may be overturned by the Court of Appeal, the country's highest domestic court; from there, Bahamians can take their case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
DOMESTIC SERVICE OF PAPERS IN THE BAHAMAS
Whenever possible, the court should specify both the date on the calendar and the time of day by which a judgment, order, or directive imposing a time restriction for undertaking any act must be carried out would be effective.
Documents sent via mail are considered served fourteen days after they are sent. To schedule a hearing, the individual must submit their application at least seven days in advance. If the last day of the time limit for conducting an act at the court office is a day the Court is closed, the act is timely if completed by the close of business on the following day the Court is open.
All documents intended for use in the Supreme Court must be produced on ‘letter size’ paper and in a manner to be regulated by Practice Direction issued by the Chief Justice. Any document filed or used in court may be required to be in the format prescribed by the Chief Justice to facilitate the electronic recording or filing of that document, and the Chief Justice may prescribe the conditions under which documents may be served or filed electronically by practice direction.
FILING OF DOCUMENTS IN THE BAHAMAS
A document may be filed by [A.] physically delivering it to the court office where the claim is proceeding or intended to proceed, or [B.] electronically submitting it using electronic filing (e-filing) or any other electronic means approved by the presiding Court Rules in accordance with a Practice Direction issued by the Chief Justice.
The date a document is stamped (physically or digitally) by or on behalf of the court office is the date it is considered filed. If a filing fee is required, a document is not considered filed until either the filing fee has been paid or an undertaking to pay the filing fee has been obtained that is acceptable to the Registrar.
The court's seal may be affixed to a document either by hand; or by printing a facsimile of the seal on the document electronically or by any other electronic means. The judge or registrar who issued the order, judgment, or instructions must sign or initial them. This does not apply to Default Judgments. A different judge may sign or initial the order, judgment, or instructions if the original judge or registrar has resigned or is unavailable. Evidence that purports to carry the court's seal may be presented without more proof.
Each party submitting a statement of the case must include a physical location (including a street number) within the jurisdiction where the party will accept the service of process. Any document provided to the original address before receiving notification of such change by the party serving the document is considered lawfully served. If the address for service changes, a party must promptly inform the court and all other parties.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE PARTIES FOR SERVICE
Each case statement must be accompanied by a statement of truth personally signed by both parties. If the party can't sign the statement required in person, it might be delivered by their attorney instead.
The attorney's statement of truth must attest to being [A.] delivered per the party's instructions; and [B.] why it is impracticable for the lay party to make the statement of truth. Any statement of the case not confirmed by a declaration of truth is subject to being struck by the court.
Any person may, during business hours, upon payment of the prescribed fee, search for, inspect, and take a copy of documents filed in the court office, with redactions, if any, deemed necessary by a registrar. A party to a proceeding may seek for, examine, and request a copy of any affidavit or other document submitted in the court office in that proceeding or filed before the start of that action but with a view to its initiation. No document filed with or in possession of the Registry may be removed from the Registry without the court's permission unless the document is transferred to another Registry or delivered to a judge or registrar.
All papers submitted to the court must have the proper heading as specified. In the Bahamas, the document's heading would need to include the entire title of the proceedings and the document's heading. The reader should immediately understand the nature of the proceedings and the material submitted. The title should indicate whether or not any of the parties is acting as a representative. Additionally, when legal action is taken in accordance with specific legislation, that statute's name must appear in the title of the process.
Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.
Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC. Our receptionist receives all documents.
DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:
Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:
Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados| Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile |China (Macao)| China People's Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India| Ireland| Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait| Latvia| Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico | Monaco | Montenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay| Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland| Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania|Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia| Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands | Ukraine | United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam
New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 - 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 - 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300, Washington DC 20004
FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN BAHAMAS
Simply pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your Bahamas process service needs; no job is too small or too large!
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1. (Order 10, Rule 1 of the Superior Court Rules)
2. Case must be brought in The Bahamas if one of the following six conditions is met: (1) the entire subject matter of the dispute involves land located in The Bahamas; (2) the dispute relates to an obligation affecting land in The Bahamas; (3) the defendant is domiciled or ordinarily resides in The Bahamas; (4) the contract in dispute was made in The Bahamas; (5) the action relates to the administration of the estate of a person who was domiciled in The Bahamas; or (6) a tort was committed in The Bahamas.
3. If the sum in dispute does not exceed BS$5,000.00, Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrates may also hear and rule on Civil matters.
4. When choosing a new Chief Justice, the Governor-General takes advice from the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader before making the final decision. The Governor-General consults with the Judicial and Legal Service Commission before appointing justices to the Supreme Court.
5. A day is not counted if I it is a Saturday or Sunday or (ii) it is a day on which the court office is closed.
6. If the last day allotted for doing an act that does not have to be performed in court falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the act must be performed by 4 p.m. on the following regular business day.
7. All documents filed with the court must: (a) have a heading that includes the full title of the proceedings and the title of the document; (b) include the name, business address, reference, phone number, and email address of the person or persons filing the document; (c) have a date; (d) (except in the case of an affidavit) be signed by the person filing the document; and (e) identify the party on whose behalf the document is filed.
After a signature, the signer's entire name should be printed below it.
8. The following papers (a) the claim form, (b) any notifications of appeal, and (c) all judgments (excluding default judgments), orders, or directives of the court must be filed under seal with the court.
9. If Rule 4 requires a party to transmit a blank form to another party, that party must do so without changing the form in any way other than to include the case number and the court's address for the return of the document. The Supreme Court seal must be affixed to any document specifically requesting it.
10. No changes to a form may omit any instructions or information that the receiver would otherwise get from the form in the Appendix or practice form.
11. A certificate given by an attorney on behalf of a party must be in the following form: ‘I [name of the individual attorney giving the certificate] certify that - (a) the [claimant or as the case may be] believes that the facts stated in this [name document] are true; and (b) this statement is given on the [claimant's or as the case may be] instructions.
Because [insert valid reason], the [claimant or as applicable] is unable to issue the certificate.
12. The following format must be used to declare the truth: ‘I [name] certify that I think that the facts described in this [name document] are true.’
13. The specific documents that may be taken are
(a) a claim form;
(b) a defense;
(c) a reply;
(d) a notice of appeal;
(e) a judgment or order was given or made in court; and
(f) with the leave of the court