Resources

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

General

Why do court cases take such a long time to get resolved?
Ordinary citizens who become involved in court matters, often find that their cases take a long time to settle. The length of time depends on the nature and complexity of the cases, and can involve a fair amount of waiting time as there is a backlog of cases facing each court and cases are heard on a first come first served basis.

In criminal matters, the investigation process also takes a significant portion of the time. However, civil matters are usually settled in a more reasonable time.

Is there any way I can assist my attorneys with my legal matter?
Yes, certainly. Your matter will proceed more smoothly if you provide information to your attorney in a timely manner. Try to jot down relevant details before you visit your attorney, and come prepared with names and dates of people, places or events.

If you are unable to keep an appointment with your attorney call beforehand to reschedule. You should ask for clarification on anything that you do not understand, and ensure that you are clear about dates and addresses of court or mediation sessions at which your attendance is required.

How do I choose the right lawyer?
Three important considerations when selecting an attorney are: competence, convenience, and affordability. An excellent measure of the legal competence of a firm or attorney is its reputation among its competitors. In addition, testimonials from satisfied clients says a lot about the quality an attorney.

You should also ensure that your lawyer is registered and properly qualified to practice in your jurisdiction. Convenience covers the accessibility of the firm (by phone, fax, online or in person), and the personality of the attorneys and staff; your lawyer should be easy to talk to and should inspire your trust and confidence.

Affordability: Legal fees can be high, but some law firms offer flexible payment schedules, some will take matters on a contingency basis and some even do pro bono (free) work. Do your research before choosing a firm, and aim to have all your legal matters handled in one place.

Should I really report every accident to my car insurance company?
Yes. And never sign any document accepting liability, as the insurance company can then refuse to pay damages on your behalf.
How can I sue someone who has wronged me?
You can sue someone in person by going to the Civil Registrar at any Court, or you may opt to go through an attorney.
What should I do if someone tries to sue me?
Consult a lawyer or someone with the necessary experience who can advise you.
Should I call the police or a lawyer if I am defrauded?
For criminal action or to get immediate response in an emergency you should call the police. If you wish to sue for recovery of your money, you will need to retain the services of an attorney.
I signed a contract; how can I get out of it without being sued?
Whether you can get out of a signed contract without being sued depends on the terms of the specific contract. It is a good idea to get an attorney’s advice before entering agreements. But if you have already signed on the dotted line, the sooner you get a professional legal opinion the better.
Where can I go if I cannot afford a lawyer?
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may visit the Legal Aid Clinic at Norman Manley Law School, U.W.I. Mona, or the Kingston Legal Aid Clinic on Tower Street, Kingston.

Real Estate / Conveyancy / Property

Why do I need a lawyer to buy land, if the vendor has already agreed to the price?
The ownership of land is a complex matter because land is capable of having many ‘interests’. This means that even if the vendor has a valid title for the land, there could be other factors such as leases, mortgages or covenants that may affect your rights as a new owner.

During conveyancing, your attorney conducts investigations to uncover any outside interests on the property and to ensure that rights to ownership are properly transferred from vendor to purchaser.

What if I can’t find my Title?
If you have lost your Title, contact your Attorney-at-law immediately. They will prepare an Application for a replacement Title and will lodge same at the Titles Office. You must tell your Attorney-at-law how the loss or destruction occurred and the last time you saw the Title. Your Attorney-at-law will use this information to ground your Application for a replacement Title. If the Registrar of Titles accepts your Application, provisional approval is granted along with instructions to advertise the Application in the newspaper. The process can take anywhere between six to nine months.

Intellectual Property

What is a trademark?
A trademark is a graphical representation that differentiates goods or services of a person, company or other legal entity from others. These graphical representations may be comprised of letters, numbers, names, images, colours etc.
How long does it take to register a trademark?
The process of registering a trademark takes from 6 months to a year because of the various steps involved.
How long is trademark registration effective for?
Your trademark registration will be effective for ten years. At that point you will have to renew your registration.

Estate Planning and Administration

At what age should I write a will?
You should write a will as soon as you reach eighteen (18) years old, if you have any real or personal property.

Labour Law and Industrial Relations / Personal Injury

What can I do if I think my employer is being unfair?
Consult your lawyer or the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
I was injured in an accident and I cannot afford the medical bills?
You may be able to get compensation for your accident. If you consult an attorney, your case can be handled on a contingency basis so that your bills will be taken care of for you.

Commercial / Corporate Law

What is the difference between a business name and a company?
A company is a legal entity that is considered to be separate from its members or owners. A business on the other hand, is not a separate legal entity and has no legal identity or existence outside of its members.
For more detail please read [Incorporation vs Biz Name document]
Can I register a company even though there is another company with a similar name?
No, Jamaican law does not allow you to register a company with a name that is the same as or too similar to an existing company. Once your register your company, your company’s name will be protected in the same way.

Criminal Litigation

Who should I call if I, or someone I know, gets arrested?
If you or someone you know is arrested, your first concerns should be safety and bail. You should contact your lawyer and a close friend or family member.

Family Law

How do I go about getting a divorce?
In Jamaica, divorce is obtained through an application to the Supreme Court. It is relatively simple to obtain a divorce today compared to several years ago. However, there are still several steps and some strict timelines involved.

A qualified attorney can make an application for divorce on your behalf after you have given the attorney some basic information about your marriage. Factors such as whether or not you have young children from your marriage, or whether you and your spouse jointly own any property or bank accounts may affect the length of time and complexity involved in obtaining your divorce.

What documents do I need to facilitate my divorce?
The most important document to take with you to your Attorney-at-Law is your Marriage Certificate. The original document must be given to your Attorney-at-Law as he/she must file it in the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica. Also, if children are involved, take along their Birth Certificates. If property is involved, take along a copy of the Title so that your Attorney-at-law can review it.

Useful Links

Here you will find several private and government agencies that are relative to our industry.

General Legal Council

The Legal Profession Act created the GLC, which provides invaluable services to the public and attorneys-at-law.

Jamaican Bar Association

We are a voluntary organisation comprised of Attorneys-at-Law called to the Jamaican Bar.

Passport Immigration & Citizenship Agency

We help people on their migration journey to become Jamaican citizens.

National Land Agency

We are an Executive agency that brings together the core land information functions of Government.

Tax Administration of Jamaica

The TAJ is the country’s premiere revenue collecting agency.

Registrar General's Department

RGD is an Executive Agency and represents our repository of birth, death, marriage and fetal death records.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court timely delivers a high standard of justice for all Jamaicans.

The Court of Appeal

This court exercises great care in reviewing the decisions of the lower courts and tribunals, against which complaints are made.

Useful Links

Here you will find several private and government agencies that are relative to our industry.
General Legal Council

General Legal Council

The Legal Profession Act created the GLC, which provides invaluable services to the public and attorneys-at-law. [website]
Tax Administration of Jamaica

Tax Administration of Jamaica

The TAJ is the country’s premiere revenue collecting agency. [website]
Jamaican Bar Association

Jamaican Bar Association

We are a voluntary organisation comprised of Attorneys-at-Law called to the Jamaican Bar. [website]
Registrar General's Department

Registrar General's Department

RGD is an Executive Agency and represents our repository of birth, death, marriage and fetal death records. [website]
Passport Immigration & Citizenship Agency

Passport Immigration & Citizenship Agency

We help people on their migration journey to become Jamaican citizens. [website]
The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court timely delivers a high standard of justice for all Jamaicans. [website]
National Land Agency

National Land Agency

We are an Executive agency that brings together the core land information functions of Government. [website]
The Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal

This court exercises great care in reviewing the decisions of the lower courts and tribunals, against which complaints are made. [website]

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