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Explain the structure of the Maldives judicial system

September 10, 2019

Maldives judiciary system
The judiciary of the Maldives is based on a three-tiered court system. The courts of first instance include the Civil, Criminal, Family and Juvenile courts established in Male' and the magistrate courts of the islands.


Supreme Court: The Supreme Court, as stipulated under Article 141 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives is the highest authority for the administration of Justice in the Maldives. The Supreme Court is headed by a Chief Justice who is head of the Judiciary. Along with the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court consists of five Judges. The Constitution requires Supreme Court rulings to be disposed of by an uneven number of Judges sitting together in session. The Supreme Court is the highest authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the Law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.

The High Court: The High Court of the Maldives was created on 5 October 1980. The High Court was the only court of appeal and the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives until the establishment of the Supreme Court on 18 September 2008. Article 141 of the Constitution vests power in The High Court all the powers to administer justice in the Maldives.

Civil Court: The Civil Court has the jurisdiction to adjudicate on all civil matters except for those that are being determined by the Family Court. The Civil Court of the Maldives was established on 1 August 1997 after abolishing court numbers 2 and 4.

Criminal Court: The Criminal Court adjudicates on all cases of criminal offences in the Maldives. The court functions under 3 main sections namely; the Trial Offences, Legal Offences, and Summary Judgment.

Family Court: The Family Court adjudicates on all matters relating to family life under the Family Law of the Maldives, which was implemented in 2001. In addition, the court performs marriages, registers marriages and divorces, and arrange for the consent of the judicial guardian of the bride.
Juvenile Court: The Juvenile Court of the Maldives was established on 1 August 1997 to look into all matters of juvenile delinquency in the country. The court adjudicates on all juvenile delinquency matters of those who have not yet attained the age of 18. Cases are filed to the Juvenile Court through the Prosecutor General’s Office once the matter has been investigated by relevant Government authorities.

Island (Magistrate) Courts: The Island Courts have the jurisdiction over all, civil, criminal, family and juvenile cases in that particular island except for certain serious legal issues like drug trafficking and abuse, terrorism, murder, political offences, and civil cases involving more than 5 Million Rufiyaa. By 17 July 1979 an Island Court was established in every inhabited island of the Maldives. Each Island Court is appointed with a Magistrate.

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