Its operations are in the main governed by the Constitution and the High Court Act [Chapter 7:06].
It consists of the Chief Justice, the Judge President and such other Judges of the High Court as may be appointed from time to time. The Judge President is the overall administrative head of the High Court. The High Court has permanent seats at Harare and at Bulawayo. It however, also sits three times in a year as a circuit court at Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and Hwange.
In criminal trials, the High Court is duly constituted if it consists of one Judge and two assessors. Assessors assist in deciding issues of fact only and have an equal say as the judge in that regard. When the High Court is hearing appeals, at least 2 Judges are required. Where an even number of judges sit on appeal and the opinion is equally divided, the decision is suspended until the opinion of a third Judge is obtained and the decision of the majority becomes the decision of the court. Assessors are not required during appeal hearings.
In civil cases, the judge sits alone. A Judge, however, has discretion to appoint an assessor or assessors to assist him in a civil case. In this regard the assessors act only in an advisory capacity and are not entitled to vote in the decision of the court.
These may be appointed from persons who either have experience in the administration of justice or experience or special skill in any matter, which may have to be considered, by the Court. An assessor may also be appointed on the basis that s/he has any other experience which in the opinion of the Chief Justice or the Judge President renders him/her suitable to act as an assessor. Either party to the trial is entitled to challenge the appointment of a particular assessor.
The High Court is a court of first instance, possessed of inherent and unlimited criminal and civil jurisdiction, over all persons and over all matters in Zimbabwe.
In criminal matters the High Court has jurisdiction over all persons and over all criminal offences recognised by law. Its unlimited criminal jurisdiction empowers it to pass any punishment permitted by law, including the death penalty. Its powers of punishment are unrestricted in regard the quantum of the monetary penalty or the length of imprisonment that may be imposed except where a statute has imposed limitations.
The High Court also exercises both review and appellate jurisdiction over all criminal matters determined by the Magistrates Court.
The High court has full original jurisdiction over all persons and over all matters within Zimbabwe. Its original jurisdiction is unlimited, it may deal with any nature of claim and there are no monetary limits to claims that may be instituted. It is the only court, which enjoys inherent jurisdiction meaning that unless prohibited by some law from exercising jurisdiction, it is deemed to have jurisdiction.
The High Court also exercises appellate jurisdiction in civil cases that are determined by tribunals that are subordinate to it. Save for civil appeals emanating from the Magistrates Court, appeals emanating from other tribunals only lie with High Court where a statute specifically provides for a right of appeal to it. All civil appeals emanating from the Magistrates Court lie with the High Court. It also has inherent review powers over proceedings of all tribunals subordinate to it.
For questions to this court Please contact
Corner 3rd Street and Samora Machel Avenue
Box: 870 Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 4 250 805/ +263 4 250 765
Cnr 8th Avenue and Herbert Chitepo Street
Tel: +263 9 888 096 / +263 9 61605