Ancient Legal System in Sri Lanka

The Governor General has appointed the Chief Justice and the judges of the Supreme Court. In addition, a Judicial Service Commission has been established under the leadership of the President of the Supreme Court. This commission controlled the affairs of judges in the judicial system. Below we give a summary of the legal interest rate change: – There is now an awareness that these personal and customary laws, based on ancient customs, discriminate against women. Like the Supreme Court in Sivagnanalingam v. Suntheralingam, under Thesawalamai, “the surviving spouse is not (automatically) an heir to the estate of the deceased.” However, the spouse has a preferential right in certain circumstances. Arbitration is another form of non-adversarial dispute resolution for which there is a legal framework in Sri Lanka. Until 1995, the conduct of arbitration proceedings on the basis of the references of the parties was governed by the provisions of the Arbitration Ordinance 1866 and the Code of Civil Procedure. Arbitration Decree No. 11 of 1995 implementing the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards repealed and replaced the Arbitration Ordinance and the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Sri Lanka has remained a constitutional democracy since its independence from British colonial rule in 1948. The basis of the legal system is the Constitution, which was enacted as law in 1978 to repeal the previous Constitution, which was adopted and promulgated in 1972.

The Constitution allows for the amendment or repeal of its provisions, with the exception of certain blocked provisions that require a 2/3 majority of parliament or a referendum. At the time of writing, the current Constitution has been amended nineteen (19) times. European control of present-day Sri Lanka began in 1505 with Portuguese rule and lasted about one hundred and fifty (150) years later. However, it should be noted that Portuguese rule did not have a lasting impact on Sri Lanka`s laws and legal institutions. [3] The Portuguese agreed in the Malwana Convention of 1597 to maintain and administer the laws and customs of the Sinhalese in the Maritime provinces that were maintained in their time. However, the application of Sinhalese laws was accompanied by a certain influence of the Portuguese. As in other ancient legal systems, conventions, customs, sanctions and main legal concepts, although not formulated concretely, have been established over the years, in particular with court decisions made from time to time. The British established a modern system of justice and civil administration.

They respected the laws in force, namely the Romano-Dutch laws and the customary laws that applied to the different ethnic groups. Before the arrival of the European powers in 1505, the country had different laws, mainly targeting different ethnic communities. Some of the notable laws at that time (although not codified at that time) were the Kandyan Law, the Tesawalamai, Muslim Law, and the laws of the Mukkuvars, Chetties, Parsees, and Paravars. The Kandyan law was more developed than the rest with a sophisticated system that reflected the influence of “Buddhism, Hindu laws and customs, Sakyan and Mauryan customs, other Indian customs, and various other laws and customs that the original Sinhalese had brought to Sri Lanka.” [2] Tesawalamai was recognized as a law introduced to Sri Lanka by Malabar immigrants from India and later amended by later immigrants from India with a strong influence of Hindu law. Muslim law and the laws of the Mukkuvars, Chetties, Parsees and Paravars were also recognized at that time as laws that apply to certain communities. There were two types of practitioners; Lawyers and supervisors are based on English law, although since the implementation of the Justice Act No. 44 of 1973, there is only one type of legal practitioner who is licensed to represent others in all courts on the island and who is also allowed to advise on all legal matters known as lawyers. Practitioners are divided between the official and unofficial bars. The Tamils, who lived mainly in the northern regions, followed the law of Tesawalamai. The Dutch commander of Jaffna at the time mentioned the local customs of the Jaffna people with regard to their settlement of disputes.

These customs were later codified as the “Law of Tesawalamai”. The law of the Muslim community was Muslim law. This Muslim community was the descendant of Muslims who came to the island as traders or immigrated from India. Their code of Muslim law was also codified during the Dutch period. There were also other smaller legal systems such as the mukkuvar law and the system of laws for the Chetties, Parsees and Paravars.[9] The Dutch came to the island after the Portuguese. They were on the island from 1656 to 1796 AD. Nor could they extend their authority beyond coastal areas. But they successfully introduced their version of Christianity, laws, justice and administration in coastal areas. In a reasonably civilized society, there should certainly have been some form of administration of civil and judicial affairs. We have no written confirmation of the legal systems that prevailed at that time. But we have evidence that proves that the kings who later reigned maintained law and order. They have also followed some forms of hierarchical justice systems.