Jordan’s constitution stipulates that the country is a hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system. It outlines the functions and powers of the state, the rights and duties of Jordanians, guidelines for interpretation of the Constitution and conditions for constitutional amendments.
It mandates the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and outlines the regulation of the government’s finances, as well as the enforcement and repeal of laws. Importantly, the Constitution specifically guarantees the rights of Jordanian citizens, including the freedoms of speech and press, association, academic freedom, political parties, freedom of religion and the right to elect parliamentary and municipal representatives.
The Jordanian judicial system is comprised of both civil and religious courts. The religious court system's jurisdiction extends to all matters of personal status, and the civil courts have jurisdiction over all other matters.
The religious court system has jurisdiction over matters of personal status, including marriage, divorce, inheritance and alimony. Persons of the same religion are subject to the appropriate religious courts, the Shar'ia Courts for Muslims and Ecclesiastical Courts for Christians.
Persons not of the same religion who do not expressly consent to the jurisdiction of a religious court may bring their dispute to the civil court having appropriate jurisdiction.
The civil judiciary is a three-tiered system. The lowest courts are the fourteen Magistrates Courts and the seven Courts of First Instance. The Magistrates Courts have expressly defined jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases of matters involving small fines of a maximum imprisonment period of two years.
The Courts of First Instance have general jurisdiction in all criminal and civil matters not expressly granted to the Magistrates Courts' jurisdiction.
The Courts of First Instance also sit at a court of appeal for judgments of Magistrates Courts. The next judicial tier is the Court of Appeals which is presided over by a tribunal of judges. Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is geographically based.
The Courts of Appeals hear appeals in chambers in chambers of Magistrates Courts' decisions, and decide appeals from decisions of the Courts of First Instance and the Religious Courts. The Court of Cassation is the highest level of the judiciary. Important cases are heard by a full panel of judges. Ordinary appeals of decisions from the Court of Appeals are heard by a five judge panel.