(a.) Power to institute and undertake criminal proceedings

As mentioned before the DPP is the supreme prosecuting authority in Jamaica. The DPP usually prefers an indictment, which is the statement of the charges the accused person is to face at his trial.

The preferring of an indictment is the sole prerogative of the prosecuting authorities and persons who undertake private prosecutions must get the consent of the DPP.[1] This is usually done by the DPP issuing a fiat, which allows such person to actively associate himself or herself with the prosecution.  Human rights groups such as Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) have made use of this facility to prosecute policemen.

The usual procedure is that for felonies, a Preliminary Examination is usually held before the RM to determine whether or not there is enough evidence, that is, a prima facie case, to warrant the case being committed for trial in the Circuit Court.  

However, the DPP is not bound by this procedure and the DPP is empowered under Section 2 (2) of The Criminal Justice (Administration) Act to prefer what is called a voluntary bill of indictment moving a case straight to the Circuit Court without the necessity for there having been any Preliminary Examination of the Accused before a RM.




The finding by a RM that there is no prima facie case in a Preliminary Examination to warrant the case being committed to trial in the Circuit Court does not preclude the exercise of the DPP’s power to have the case committed to trial, as evidenced in the case of Lloyd Brooks v the DPP and the Attorney General.[2]     

The Accused appealed which was dismissed and at the Privy Council as per Lord Woolf the following issues were decided:-

  1. That Section 2 (2) of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act makes provision for an indictment to be preferred by the direction or written consent by a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  2. That Section 2 (2) of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act empowers the DPP to prefer an indictment without seeking the direction of a Judge or anyone. However, it is equally clear that the Act entitles the DPP, if he chooses to do so, in his unfettered discretion to seek the direction or consent of a judge.
  3. That Section 94 (6) of the Constitution, which states that in the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by this section the DPP shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority has not been breached. The purpose of Section 94 (6) is to protect the DPP from objectionable political interference and is not intended to apply to judicial control of the proceedings.
  4. The Judge in exercising his power under Section 2 (2) is giving his endorsement of the initiation of the proceedings.

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[1] See Section 2 (2) of The Criminal Justice (Administration) Act).


[2] (1994) 31 JLR 16, [1994] 2 All ER 231.


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