Serving as a Justice of the Peace

Dispensing Justice on Behalf of The Community

What is a JP?

The office of  Justice of the Peace or JP has existed for hundreds of years. People holding the office perform an essential public service by dispensing justice within their community; hearing a range of criminal & non-criminal cases in the summary court.

Today, there are 11 JPs in the Falkland Islands, all from different walks of life and they all give their time and expertise voluntarily.

The Summary Court is the first tier within our Justice System. It is comprised of :

° The Adult Court – for criminal cases involving people over 18.

° The Youth Court – for cases involving young people aged from 10-17.

° The Family Proceedings Court – where some family disputes are settled.

Justices do not hear cases on their own. They usually

sit as one of a bench of three JPs, together with a qualified

Legal Adviser who is there to advise on points of law and procedure.

Criminal Courts

Criminal cases make up the bulk of the work dealt with in the Summary Court.

The Summary Court sits regularly, dealing with the first hearing for all criminal matters, from motoring offences through to murder. Where a matter is too serious for the Summary Court to deal with, it is either sent to the Supreme Court or committed to the Magistrate’s Court.

Family Proceedings Courts

JPs can hear cases in the family court which involve the welfare and upbringing of children.

This can include whether children are removed from the care of their parents and also disputes between separated parents and the arrangements for their children.

Licensing Courts

Justices are responsible for granting or refusing licences to people who want to sell alcohol to the public.  This includes the annual renewal of licences.

Where do I come in?

Have you ever wondered what happens when someone comes to court or  how the court has come to their decision?

Becoming a Justice of the Peace gives you the opportunity to not only learn about the work of the court, but also to play a vital part in administering local justice .

Through comprehensive training and guidance from your Legal Adviser and with the support of your colleagues on the Bench, you can learn the skills and qualities required to be a Justice of the Peace.

Do I need legal qualifications or some experience?

You do not need any formal qualifications at all. Nor do you need previous legal training or experience.  You are fully trained and advised by a legally qualified adviser and you are provided with structures to assist you in your decision making, along with guidelines for your sentencing.

I have a job and a family to look after; is it for me?

It is true that becoming a Justice of the Peace is a commitment; you will be required to sit regularly and to play an active role in the life of the Bench through attending training and meetings where necessary. However, the court understands that all JPs are volunteers and that your time is valuable.  Every effort is made to provide training and meetings at a time convenient to those attending.

Everybody has to take their turn to sit in court and this is dealt with by way of a rota, which is based upon your availability.  If you are unable to sit on your allocated day arrangements will be put in place to ensure someone else covers for you.

How do I find out more?

The court, in conjunction with His Excellency the Governor, will be running an open event at 9:30am on Thursday 23rd September 2021 at the court.

You will have the opportunity to take part in sentencing a defendant in a criminal case, learning about the structured sentencing process.

You will also be able to speak to local JPs, learn more about the work of the Justices and to pick up an application form. 

Everyone is welcome; whether you are interested in becoming a Justice of the Peace or just want to know more about how the local justice system works.  Young or old, we would love you to join us!

We look forward to welcoming you.


For further information or to discuss any aspect of this leaflet please contact the Head of Courts and Tribunals Service, Emma Fulton, on 27271or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.