- Subordinate Courts
The Magistrate's Court
Subordinate Courts hereinafter referred to as the Magistrates Courts are creatures of the statute (Subordinate Courts Order, 1988). They are administered under governed Subordinate Courts Act and Subordinate Courts Rule 2008. They are presided over by judicial officers (Magistrates) appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Subordinate Courts conduct their proceedings (in both civil and criminal cases) in open court, subject to certain exceptions and accessible to the public.
The Magistrate’s Courts are divided into three regions viz, Northern Region, Central Region and Southern Region, as a result, there are three Chief Magistrates. There are Magistrate’s Courts in each of the ten districts. They also entertain both criminal and civil reviews from local courts. The Magistrate’s Courts have different jurisdictions, they exercise criminal and civil jurisdictions within certain specified monetary limits. They do not have jurisdiction to hear cases on divorce, judicial separation, a dispute involving or interpretation of wills or any testamentary documents. Whenever a constitutional point is raised in the Magistrate Court such a point must defer to the High Court for determination.
Chief Magistrate (Central)
Chief Magistrate (Southern)
Acting Chief Magistrate (Northern)
Small Claims Procedure
In terms of Section 3 of the Subordinate Courts (Small Claims Procedure) Implementing Rules No. 30 of 2011 a Small Claims “court” means an ordinary subordinate court in Lesotho and the “presiding officer” means the person who is designated to hear the matter in accordance with the rules. This is a fast-track procedure in which an individual is free to approach the Magistrate’s Court without legal representation. The small claims procedures deal with claims of not more than M10 000. In this procedure, an ordinary person can approach the court without legal representation as lawyers are barred in this simplified regime. The small claims procedure deals with the merits of the claim rather than deciding cases on technicalities. The emphasis is on substance justice, not technical justice.
This is the division of the Magistrate’s Court that deals with the cases involving children affected by or involved in criminal cases. The Children’s Court is governed by the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act No. 7 of 2011 which repealed the Children’s Protection Act No.1 of 1980. In terms of Section 133 (1), every Subordinate Court shall be a Children’s Court within its area of jurisdiction, but in terms of 133 (2) it shall be presided over by a designated presiding officer.
District Land Court
The District Land Court is a court established in terms of Section 73 of Land Act 2010 and in terms of Section 75 of the Act the Subordinate Courts are District Land Courts for purposes of the Act. In terms of Rule 5 of the District Land Court Rules, a District Land Court Magistrate shall be assigned by the Chief Justice.
Victims Of Crime Office
This is the department of the Magistrate’s Courts manned by Advocates who deal with diverted cases of smaller magnitude for purposes of restorative justice.
This is the department of the Magistrate’s Courts which supervises convicts sentenced to community service imposed by the Magistrate’s Courts for trivial criminal cases. It was established by Community Service Sentencing Rules 2011.