More efficient CCJ looking for new CARICOM jurisdictions

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 3, 2018

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has delivered 22 judgements, thus far for 2018, as against 11 cases coming out of the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council (JCPC).

This was announced by President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Business Luncheon on Thursday, at the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston Georgetown.

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders

“Between January and now, for the Commonwealth countries who send their appeals to the judicial committee, that court has delivered 11 judgements and they have the big ones like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago that are sending appeals to them… but in the same length of time we delivered 22 judgements – double the amount.”

Currently, member states including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recognise the Privy Council as their final court of appeal, while the CCJ only handles cases for Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Dominica.

The CCJ is based in Trinidad and Tobago, however, the country does not utilise the services of the court. Justice Saunders noted that while this is a concern for the body, it is something that will be worked upon. Under his tenure, a robust campaign will be undertaken to encourage more CARICOM members including Trinidad to have the CCJ as their final court of appeal.

“We have had a strategy in the past on focusing on the governments, the bar associations to do something about that situation, and for thirteen years that strategy has not produced anything. We need to find a way in which we can get to the ordinary people…We need to pay more attention to influencing more public opinion.”

The CCJ plans to use social media to better inform people about the role and work of the CCJ, and the services that it offers.

Justice Saunders noted that a lot of persons are apathetic about the court because it does not affect their daily lives, or they are misinformed about the court. This, he said, will offer a scope to better provide them information about the value of having a ‘Caribbean Court’ to accept their appeals in place of the ‘Privy Council’ which is based in London.

Established in 2003, the CCJ is the judicial institution of CARICOM. The Caribbean Court has two jurisdictions, an original jurisdiction and an appellate jurisdiction. In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ interprets and applies the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, while in its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ hears appeals as the court of last resort in both civil and criminal matters from those member states which have ceased to allow appeals to the JCPC.

Synieka Thorne

Image: Jules Gibson



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