Legal and Constitutional Affairs – Jamaica Information Service (2023)


  • Constitutional Reform
  • Legal Education
  • Legal Reform
  • Protection of Human Rights


  • Law Revision Secretariat
  • Legal Reform Department
  • Office of the Parliamentary Counsel


  • Constitutional Reform
  • Legal Reform
  • Legal Education
  • Protection of Human Rights

Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Role and Functions

The Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs (MLCA) has been established to take charge of, and give focused attention to, the Government’s legislative agenda and its legal and constitutional reform aspirations. The creation of the MLCA is the Government’s attempt to holistically revisit the legal and constitutional infrastructure of the State and accelerate the pace of reform.

The re-write of Chapter III of the Constitution of Jamaica, with the passage of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms over a decade ago, has been the closest we have come to any fundamental constitutional reform since Independence. This should have been followed by a comprehensive review of the Laws of Jamaica to make them compliant with the Charter, given its binding nature and the significant narrowing of the savings-clause. A major area of focus for the Ministry will be the reform of the Constitution to enable Jamaica to transition from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.

The MLCA’s Legal Education responsibility will transcend the provision of monthly subventions to the Norman Manley Law School to include implementation of a robust Public Education Programme on the Laws of Jamaica to augment technocrats’ knowledge and awareness of the laws which govern the operation of their entities, the legislative review process, and their role in the process. The MLCA recognises the need to improve knowledge and understanding of legislation under each Ministry’s portfolio to prevent/reduce the Government’s exposure to Court action and ultimately, liability, as well as to help improve confidence and integrity in government.

The purpose of the Public Education Programme on the Laws of Jamaica is to educate technocrats and all Jamaicans on the following:

  1. The legislative process and the role of all stakeholders in the process;
  2. The laws which govern the operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the need to comply with them;
  3. Administrative/Public Law requirements for the exercise of statutory functions;
  4. The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the role of the State in protecting people’s rights;
  5. The Government’s Legal and Constitutional Reform Agendas.

The MLCA will also seek to protect the rights of the people of Jamaica which are guaranteed under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

Office of the Parliamentary Counsel

The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is the Law Office of the Government charged with the responsibility for the preparation of draft legislation. It consists of a cadre of attorneys-at-law headed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and supported by administrative and secretarial staff. It is one of the four Legal Departments in the public sector – the others being: the Legal Reform Department (another Department under the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs), the Attorney General’s Chambers, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Role and Mission

The role and mission of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is to:

  1. Facilitate the Government in the task of governing by preparing draft legislation in fulfilment of its Legislative Programme and in pursuance of policy decisions at the Ministry level; and
  2. Give counsel to Parliament in the exercise of its law-making powers by advising on draft Bills which it seeks to enact.


In carrying out these functions, Parliamentary Counsel draft Bills and subsidiary legislation on instructions from client Ministries; advise Ministries on points of law relevant to proposed legislation; examine and comment on all Cabinet Submissions related to legislation; attend Legislation Committee (a Sub-Committee of Cabinet) and; when necessary; sittings of Parliament or Committees thereof when Bills are being taken.

Legal Reform Department

The Legal Reform Department is the principal Law Reform Agency in Jamaica and is one of the four Legal Departments in the public sector. The Department had its genesis in 1973 as a Division under the Ministry of Justice and later gained Departmental status.

The mandate of the Legal Reform Department is:

“To keep under review the laws applicable in Jamaica with a view to its systematic reform to meet the changing needs of the Jamaican Society, and to assist in the implementation of law reform proposals in accordance with Government policy.

The Department therefore performs the dual functions of recommending law reform and implementing law reform recommendations, and in addition, performs various ancillary or supplemental duties.


The specific functions are to:

  • Undertake in-depth research into various areas of law in Jamaica, in the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions;
  • Prepare study papers on domestic and comparative laws;
  • Recommend the introduction of new legislation or the amendment of existing legislation or changes to legal procedures;
  • Provide advisory services at meetings of the:
    • Legislative Committee;
    • Select Committees of the Houses of Parliament; and
    • Other Committees considering law reform Bills.
  • Assist in and monitor the implementation of law reform proposals which have been approved by Cabinet;
  • Liaise with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, other interest groups and individuals on law reform issues;
  • To promote and maintain communication with law reform agencies of other jurisdictions and with the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the International Institutions on law reform issues.

Scope of Work

Its functions, in relation to making recommendations, include conducting in-depth research into and analysis of the existing Laws of Jamaica for the purpose of identifying deficiencies, anomalies, ambiguities or other problems arising thereunder, conducting comparative research and analysis of the law in other jurisdictions, and determining appropriate remedial approaches which may be taken.

This involves, depending on the subject matter, the preparation of research papers or working papers for the purpose of consultative/eliciting views of the relevant stakeholders or the public at large.

The Department also provides advice on law reform proposals emanating from other sources, such as Ministries, Departments and Agencies; members of the Judiciary; private legal practitioners or other interested persons or organizations.

Other duties

The Department also performs certain duties vital to the implementation of law reform proposals, such as:

  • Preparation of Cabinet Submissions;
  • Examining and advising on draft Bills through participation in meetings or by written comments;
  • Attendance at meetings of the Legislation Committee and Parliamentary Committees for the purpose of advising on law reform Bills; and
  • Preparation of briefs for the presentation to Parliament of law reform Bills.

Additionally, the Department’s representatives participate in the negotiation of treaties and other agreements/arrangements between Jamaica and other countries for the provision of mutual legal assistance, and in regional and international meetings (particularly those involving CARICOM and Commonwealth countries considering law reform initiatives).

Law Revision Secretariat

The Law Revision Secretariat is governed by theLaw Revision Act. The main functions of the Secretariat include:

a) Textual changes to the Laws of Jamaica (Statutes and Subsidiary Legislation)

b) Typesetting and proofreading the pages of:

(i) New statutes and subsidiary legislation

(ii) Amendments to existing statutes and subsidiary legislation

c) Data entry and proofreading of the pages of the loose-leaf Guide to SubsidiaryLegislation

d)Preparation of the Laws of Jamaica (Statutes and Subsidiary Legislation) on Compact Discs (CDs) for updating the Ministry’s website.Thispreparation process involves scanning, cropping, and capturing the revised pages received from the Jamaica Printing Services, updating theUnit’s PDF version of the Laws of Jamaica as well as the creation of links to the various sections of the laws, thus facilitating ease of access. Theprepared CDs are subsequently checked for accuracy and thereafter submitted to the MIS Unit for the updating of the website.

Office of the Public Defender

The Office of the Public Defender is a Commission of Parliament, and its operations are governed and guided by The Public Defender (Interim) Act. In accordance with the Constitution of Jamaica and the principles of Natural Justice, the Office of the Public Defender investigates complaints brought by any member of the public against the State; seeks redress for Constitutional and Administrative injustice and provides, where necessary and possible, the attorney’s fees needed to pursue Constitutional remedies in Court.

Address and Contact:

c/o Office of the Prime Minister
1 Devon Road
Kingston 10


61 Constant Spring Road
Kingston 10
(876) 927-9941-3, 929-8880-5 & 927-4101-3 (Minister & Permanent Secretary)
(876) 906-4923-31 (Legal Reform Department & Law Revision Secretariat)
(876) 906-1717 (Office of the Parliamentary Counsel)


Who is the Minister of Legal Affairs in Jamaica? ›

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte says she intends to provide an update on the work done by the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) as soon as Parliament resumes sitting.

How do I email the Ministry of Justice Jamaica? ›

What does the Ministry of Justice do in Jamaica? ›

The Ministry of Justice is the lead administrator of Justice in Jamaica and therefore administers legislation, delivers justice services and provides policy support and analysis on justice issues.

Who regulates lawyers in Jamaica? ›

Welcome to the General Legal Council of Jamaica

This website contains information that may be useful to lawyers, their clients, law students and the public generally. This includes: PRACTISING ATTORNEYS.

What is the governing body of lawyers in Jamaica? ›

The Jamaican Bar Association is a voluntary organisation of attorneys-at-law called to the Jamaican Bar. It was formed on 16 January 1973.

Can you write a letter to the Department of Justice? ›

The US Attorney General has an online contact form, but you can also send a formal letter through the mail. The address to send a formal letter to the US Attorney General is: US Department of Justice/950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW/Washington, DC 20530-0001.

How do you address a judge in Jamaica? ›

In court the judges are to be addressed as “My Lord” or “My Lady”. When writing the names of judges for example on formal orders the format to be used is “The Hon Mr/Mrs/Miss Justice ___” followed by P for President or JA for Judge of Appeal.

Who is the office of the Information Commissioner in Jamaica? ›

Celia Barclay was appointed as the Information Commissioner by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition pursuant to Part 1 of the First Schedule of the DPA on December 1, 2021 to give strategic oversight to the establishment and operations of the Office of ...

What are the powers of the justice Department? ›

The Department of Justice enforces federal laws, seeks just punishment for the guilty, and ensures the fair and impartial administration of justice.

What can the Minister of justice do? ›

Depending on the country, specific duties may relate to organizing the justice system, overseeing the public prosecutor and national investigative agencies (e.g. the American Federal Bureau of Investigation), and maintaining the legal system and public order.

What is the name of the chief justice in Jamaica? ›

The Honourable Mr Justice Bryan Sykes OJ CD, is the eighth Chief Justice of Jamaica since Jamaica gained independence in 1962.

What are the names of the ministers in Jamaica? ›

Ministers of State
Ministry or departmentMinister
Ministry of Transport and MiningWilliam J.C. Hutchinson, MP
Ministry of Health and WellnessJuliet Cuthbert-Flynn, MP
Ministry of Finance and the Public ServiceMarsha Smith, MP
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign TradeSen. Leslie Campbell
4 more rows

Who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Jamaica now? ›

Sen. the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade says, “This year's theme, “Jamaica 61, Proud and Strong”, embodies our boldness and. courage, paying homage to the brave men and women who paved the way for our Independence and the establishment of our nation”.

Who is the current Minister of Local Government in Jamaica? ›

Desmond Anthony Augustus McKenzie, CD, MP, JP Minister of Local Government and Community Development who was born on December 1, 1952 is one of Jamaica's longest serving career politicians.

Who is the director of Jamaicans for justice? ›

Director, Ms. Mickel Jackson. Welcome and best wishes!


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