Gabon

Laws

Crown Court Act 2018 — in force

Coat of Arms

Crown Court Act 2018

An Act for the better administration of justice in Her Majesty’s territories.

BE IT ENACTED by The Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, with the Advice and Consent of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, and by the authority of the same, as follows—

Chapter 1 Preliminary

1 Short title

This Act may be cited as the Crown Court of Gabon Act.

2 Crown Court

  1. There is a Crown Court of Gabon.
  2. The Crown Court is the superior court of record in Gabon and the Crown Court of general jurisdiction in and for Gabon.
  3. Subject to the prerogative powers of Her Majesty, the Crown Court has unlimited jurisdiction over all matters in and relating to Gabon, subjects of Her Majesty and any person whatsoever who finds themselves within the territory of Gabon.

3 Referrals from Her Majesty

  1. Her Majesty may refer to the Crown Court any matter whatsoever as Her Majesty shall think fit.
  2. The Crown Court must thereupon hear and consider the matter and advise Her Majesty on the matter.

4 Declaratory orders

No action shall be open to objection on the ground that a merely declaratory decree or order is sought.

Chapter 2 Jurisdiction of Crown Court

Part 1 Generally

5 Jurisdiction

The Crown Court has all jurisdiction necessary for the administration of justice in any territory of Gabon.

Part 2 Exercise of jurisdiction

6 Exercise of jurisdiction

Any one or more justices may, subject to the provisions of this Act, exercise the jurisdiction of the Crown Court.

7 Business of the court

  1. The business of the court—
    1. is taken to be conducted in court wherever it is conducted; and
    2. is to be conducted in open court.
  2. However, the court may, if the public interest or the interests of justice require, by order limit the extent to which the business of the court is open to the public.

8 Jurisdiction not affected by vacancies

The jurisdiction of the Crown Court is not affected by a vacancy in any office in the Court.

9 Jurisdiction of single justice

  1. The jurisdiction of the Crown Court may be exercised by a single justice in the cases as follows—
    1. applications relating to the conduct of a matter;
    2. applications relating to the custody or preservation of property;
    3. applications for orders to be made on an interlocutory basis;
    4. all other applications expressly authorised to be made by a single justice.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection (1), on the application of either party, the justice may order that the application be adjourned and heard by multiple justices if the application is sufficiently contentious.

10 Quorum of Full Court

A Full Court may be contituted by two or more justices sitting together.

11 Appeals of decisions

The jurisdiction of the Crown Court to hear and determine appeals from judgments shall be exercised by a Full Court.

12 Decision in case of difference of opinion

  1. When the justices sitting in Full Court are divided in opinion as to the decision to be given on any question the question shall be decided according to the decision of the majority.
  2. If subection (1) is not engaged as the Court is equally divided in opinion—
    1. if the Chief Justice provided an opinion—the Chief Justice’s opinion shall prevail; or
    2. if the Chief Justice was absent—the decision appealed from shall be affirmed.

Part 3 Appellate jurisdiction

13 Appeals from the Trial Division

  1. The Crown Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from all judgments whatsoever of any justice or justices exercising the original jurisdiction of the Crown Court.
  2. Appeals from interlocutory judgments of the Crown Court shall not be brought without leave of the Court.

14 Form of judgment on appeal

The Crown Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction may—

  1. affirm, reverse or modify the judgment appealed from;
  2. give such judgment as ought to have been given in the first instance;
  3. if the cause is not pending in the Court—in its discretion remove the cause to the Court in its original jurisdiction.

Chapter 3 Powers of Crown Court

Part 1 Powers in judgment

15 Judgment

The Crown Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may, subject to the laws of Gabon, make and pronounce all such judgments as are necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.

16 Summary judgment

  1. The Crown Court may give judgment for one party against another in relation to the whole or any part of a proceeding if—
    1. the first party is prosecuting the proceeding or that part of the proceeding; and
    2. the Court is satisfied that the other party has no reasonable prospect of successfully defending the proceeding or that part of the proceeding.
  2. The Court may give judgment for one party against another in relation to the whole or any part of a proceeding if—
    1. the first party is defending the proceeding or that part of the proceeding; and
    2. the Court is satisfied that the other party has no reasonable prospect of successfully prosecuting the proceeding or that part of the proceeding.
  3. This section does not limit any other power the Court has.

17 Reserved judgments

  1. If a proceeding is set down for judgment, it is not necessary for all or any of the judges of appeal before whom it was heard to be present in court when the judgment is pronounced.
  2. The opinion of any of the judges of appeal may be reduced to writing and may be made public by any judge of appeal at a sitting of the Crown Court at which judgment in the proceeding is pronounced.
  3. A question in the proceeding is to be decided in the same way, and the judgment of the Crown Court has the same effect, as if each judge of appeal whose opinion is so made public had been present in court and declared his or her opinion in person.
  4. For the purpose of pronouncing judgment under this section, the Crown Court may be constituted by a single judge of appeal who need not have been present at the hearing.

Part 2 Powers in relation to evidence

18 Evidence may be taken orally or upon written depositions

The Crown Court may in any matter before it examine witnesses by word of mouth or direct that the depositions of any witness shall be taken in writing by a specific person and in such manner, order and course as the Court shall appoint and direct.

19 Court may order examination

  1. The Crown Court may in any matter before it direct that a witness be examined or re-examined as to such facts as the Court shall seem fit.
  2. Subsection (1) applies notwithstanding the fact that any witness may not have been examined or no evidence may have been given on any such facts in a previous stage of the matter.

20 Witnesses to be examined on oath

Every witness to be examined by the Crown Court must give their evidence upon oath, which shall be administered by a justice of the Court in a form approved by this Act.

21 Attendance of witnesses, and production of documents, etc., may be compelled by subpoena

  1. The Crown Court may require the attendance of any witnesses and the production of any evidences or writings by writ.
  2. Any person disobeying such a writ is in contempt of court and is liable to penalty at the discretion of the Court.

Part 3 Enforcement of process

22 Contempt

It shall be a misdemeanour for a person to misbehave in the presence of the Crown Court as to obstruct the administration of justice.

23 Contumacy

It shall be a crime for a person to disobey or resist a lawfully-issued writ, process, order, rule, decree or command.

24 Powers of court extend to entire territory

The process of the Crown Court shall run, and the judgments and orders of the Court shall have effect and may be executed, throughout any territory under the control of the Crown.

Chapter 4 Offices of the Court

Part 1 Chief Justice

25 Appointment of Chief Justice

  1. The Governor in Council may, by commission, appoint a judge to be Chief Justice.
  2. A judge may be appointed as Chief Justice either at the time of the person’s appointment as a judge or at any time afterwards.

26 Chief Justice continues in office while judge

  1. The Chief Justice holds office as Chief Justice while the person holds office as a judge.
  2. The Chief Justice may resign office as Chief Justice without resigning office as a judge.

27 Title of Chief Justice

The Chief Justice is called the Chief Justice of Gabon.

28 Seniority

The Chief Justice is senior to all other judges of the Crown Court.

29 Administrative responsibility of Chief Justice

  1. Without limiting the responsibilities, functions or powers of the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice is responsible for the administration of the Crown Court and its divisions and the orderly and expeditious exercise of the court’s jurisdiction and power.
  2. Subject to this Act, the Chief Justice has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done to perform responsibilities under subsection (1).

30 Crown Court precincts

The Chief Justice has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for the control and management of the Crown Court precincts, including power to obtain, grant, prohibit or limit access to and from the precincts or part of the precincts.

Part 2 Judges generally

31 Power to act throughout State

A judge has power to act in any part of the State.

32 Accepting and holding other public offices

  1. Subject to this section, a judge may accept and hold another public office.
  2. A judge who accepts another public office—
    1. must immediately notify Her Majesty in writing; and
    2. must immediately resign the other public office if Her Majesty in Council decides, after consultation between Her Majesty and the Chief Justice, that the holding of that office, or the conditions on which it is held, would be inconsistent with the proper discharge of the office of a judge.
  3. A judge may receive remuneration in relation to the acceptance or holding of another public office only with the approval of Her Majesty in Council.
  4. In this section—

    public office includes an office or appointment granted or made by the Government of Gabon or the government of any other territory, nation, state or international entity.

Part 3 Judges of Crown Court

33 Appointment of judges

The justices of the Crown Court—

  1. shall be appointed by the Sovereign in Council; and
  2. shall not be removed except by the Sovereign in Council praying for removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incompetence.

34 Resignation of position

A judge may by writing addressed to the Sovereign resign their place which shall become vacant at its earliest five days after service.

Chapter 5 Miscellaneous

35 Court appearance

  1. In a proceeding, a party may appear in person or by—
    1. a lawyer; or
    2. with the leave of the court, another person.
  2. Any person may act as a lawyer but must take an oath at the beginning of any proceedings in which they act as a lawyer.

36 Open court

  1. The room or place in which the court sits to hear and determine any complaint upon which a conviction or order may be made, shall be deemed an open and public court, to which all persons may have access so far as the same can conveniently contain them.
  2. However, in any case in which, in the opinion of the court, the interests of public morality require that all or any persons should be excluded from the court, the court may exclude such persons therefrom accordingly.
  3. But such power shall not be exercised for the purpose of excluding the defendant’s lawyer.

37 Evidence how taken

Every witness shall be examined upon oath, or in such other manner as is prescribed or allowed by the Acts in force for the time being relating to giving evidence.

38 Payment by instalments of, or security taken for payment of, items

  1. When by a decision any sum or costs is or are adjudged to be paid the court may do all or any of the following things, namely—
    1. allow time for the payment of the sum or costs;
    2. direct payment of the sum or costs to be made by instalments;
    3. direct that the person liable to pay the sum or costs shall be at liberty to give, to the satisfaction of such person as shall be specified by the court, security, with or without a surety or sureties, for the payment of the sum or costs, or of any instalment thereof.
  2. The court directing the payment of a sum or costs or of an instalment of a sum or costs may direct such payment to be made at such time or times, and in such place or places, and to such person or persons, as may be specified.

39 Orders for fair conduct of trial

A judge presiding at a person’s trial may give any order the judge considers necessary for the fair conduct of a trial to the person, a witness or anyone summoned to be a witness.

Chapter 6 Procedure of Crown Court

Part 1 Generally

40 Proceedings in absentia

  1. An application for leave to conduct a criminal trial in absentia may be made ex parte.
  2. A court may grant such an order if, and only if, the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that—
    1. the accused has been made aware of the proceedings; and
    2. the court cannot reasonably secure participation from the accused.
  3. No appeal shall lie on the facts accepted or in any defences overlooked by the court in a trial that was conducted in absentia.

41 Limitation of proceedings

In any case, unless some other time is limited for making complaint by the law relating to the particular case, complaint must be made within 2 months from the time when the matter of complaint arose.

42 Admissions of fact

  1. On the hearing of a complaint—
    1. the defendant may, personally or by the defendant’s lawyer, admit any fact alleged against the defendant; and
    2. the complainant may, personally or by the complainant’s lawyer, admit any fact relevant to the hearing, but only if the defendant consents to the making of the admission.
  2. An admission of a fact made under subsection (1) is sufficient proof of the fact without other evidence.

Part 2 Complaints

43 Commencement of proceedings

All proceedings shall be commenced by a complaint in writing, which may be made by the complainant in person or by the complainant’s lawyer or other person authorised in that behalf.

44 Matter of complaint

  1. When 2 or more matters of complaint are joined in the 1 complaint each matter of complaint shall be set out in a separate paragraph.
  2. If, at the hearing of a complaint, it appears to the court that a defendant may be prejudiced or embarrassed in the defendant’s defence because the complaint contains more than 1 matter of complaint or that for any other reason it is desirable that 1 or more matters of complaint should be heard separately, the court may order that such 1 or more matters of complaint be heard separately.

45 General rules about complaints

  1. A complaint must contain particulars that give reasonable information about the nature of the charge.
  2. A description of an offence is not defective only because an element of the offence is not stated.
  3. It is unnecessary to state the ownership or value of anything mentioned in a charge unless the ownership or value is an element of the offence or circumstance of aggravation.

46 Amendment of complaint

If at the hearing of a complaint, it appears to the court that—

  1. there is a defect therein, in substance or in form, other than a noncompliance with the provisions of section 43; or
  2. there is a defect in any summons or warrant to apprehend a defendant issued upon such complaint; or
  3. there is a variance between such complaint, summons or warrant and the evidence adduced at the hearing in support thereof;

then—

  1. if an objection is taken for any such defect or variance—the court shall; or
  2. if no such objection is taken—the court may;

make such order for the amendment of the complaint, summons or warrant as appears to them to be necessary or desirable in the interests of justice.

Part 3 Pleas

47 Defendant to be asked to plead

When the defendant is present at the hearing the substance of the complaint shall be stated to the defendant and the defendant shall be asked how he or she pleads.

48 Where defendant pleads guilty

If the defendant pleads guilty, the Magistrates Court shall convict the defendant or make an order against the defendant or deal with the defendant in any other manner authorised by law.

49 Where defendant pleads not guilty

  1. If the defendant pleads not guilty then the court may—
    1. proceed to hear the complainant and the complainant’s witnesses, and the defendant and the defendant’s witnesses, and the complainant and such witnesses as the complainant may examine in reply if the defendant has given evidence other than as to the defendant’s general character and, upon consideration of all the evidence adduced, determine the matter and shall convict the defendant or make an order against the defendant or dismiss the complaint as justice may require; or
    2. upon good reason appearing for that object or purpose, before any evidence is adduced, adjourn the hearing.
  2. A hearing may be adjourned pursuant to subsection (1) from time to time provided no evidence has been adduced before any court in respect of the complaint.

Part 4 Dismissing complaints

50 Dismissal of complaint

If the court dismisses a complaint, the dismissal shall act as a bar to any subsequent complaint for the same matter against the same person.

51 Stay of vexatious or oppressive proceedings

A court may order a vexatious or oppressive proceeding to be stayed.

Part 5 Joinder of charges, defendants, etc

52 Separate trials when 2 or more charges against the same person

  1. Before or during a person’s trial, the court may order a separate trial of any charge in the proceedings if it considers—
    1. the person may be prejudiced or embarrassed in the person’s defence because there is more than 1 offence charged in the complaint; or
    2. that for another reason it is desirable to direct the person should be tried separately for an charge in the complaint.
  2. The procedure on the separate trial of a charge is the same as if the charge had been set out in a separate complaint.

53 Separate trials

If 2 or more persons are charged in the same indictment, whether with the same offence or with different offences, the court may, during the trial, on the application of any of the persons direct the trial of the persons or any of them be held separately from the trial of the other or others of them.

Chapter 7 Oaths and affirmations

54 Name of the Sovereign

In case of the demise of Her Majesty (whom may God long preserve) the name of Her Majesty’s successor for the time being shall be substituted in the form of any oath instead of the name of Her Majesty.

55 Affirmation in lieu of oath

Every person who is required to make an oath may instead make an affirmation in lieu of an oath in the form hereinbefore prescribed with the words “solemnly and sincerely promise and affirm” substituted for the words “sincerely promise and swear”, and may omit any reference to God.

56 Form of oath for witnesses generally

Witnesses may be sworn in any judicial or other proceedings in respect of which a form of oath to be sworn therein is not provided in this Act in the following form or to the like effect—

“You do sincerely promise and swear that the evidence which you shall give to the court [or in these proceedings] shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. SO HELP YOU GOD!”

57 Form of oath for witnesses in criminal trials

Witnesses may be sworn on criminal trials in the following form or to the like effect—

“You do sincerely promise and swear that the evidence which you shall give to the court and jury sworn between our Sovereign Lady the Queen and the prisoner [or prisoners, or the accused] at the bar shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. SO HELP YOU GOD!”

58 Form of oath for voir dire

Any person may be sworn on the voire dire in the following form or to the like effect—

“You do sincerely promise and swear that you shall true answer make to all such questions as the court shall demand of you. SO HELP YOU GOD!”

59 Form of oath for lawyers

Any person who is to act as a lawyer in a proceeding may be sworn in the following form or to the like effect—

“You do sincerely promise and swear that you were appointed by the relevant party as their lawyer in this proceeding and that you will truly and honestly conduct yourself, in the practice of a lawyer of this court, according to law to the best of your knowledge and ability. And you do sincerely promise and swear that you will, in amongst all your other duties as a lawyer, render assistance primarily to the court in its endeavour of finding the truth and as such shall not mislead the court as to the facts of a matter nor to the law as it stands. SO HELP YOU GOD!”


Endnotes:

This Act was originally tabled to Her Majesty’s Privy Council on 22 June 2018.

This Act was enacted by Her Majesty with the advice of Her Privy Council, and entered into force, on 22 June 2018.