La Corte Caribeña de Justicia (CCJ) cumple 10 años
On 10th anniversary, CCJ boasts of high quality of Court’s jurisprudence
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) celebrates ten years since it began its operations as the exclusive court for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and as the court designed to replace the British Privy Council as the final court of appeal for the CARICOM Region.
In this the 10th year of the CCJ, Dominica became the fourth member state to accept the court in its appellate jurisdiction to replace the Privy Council on 27 March of this year.
Also significant was the appointment of the Honourable Mme. Justice Rajnauth-Lee, the first female Trinidad and Tobago national to be appointed as a judge of the court.
The high quality of the Court’s jurisprudence is the most important accomplishment of the Court in its ten years. It has addressed a number of very important issues in the original jurisdiction and at the appellate level which has done a lot to clarify the rights of citizens and to give people proper justice in the region,” says President of the Court Sir Dennis Byron, a national of St. Kitts and Nevis and a former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
The Caribbean Court of Justice shall perform to the highest standards as the supreme judicial organ in the Caribbean Community. In its original jurisdiction, it ensures uniform interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, thereby underpinning and advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. As the final court of appeal for Member States of the Caribbean Community, it fosters the development of an indigenous Caribbean jurisprudence.
Sir Dennis notes that over the ten years, 160 matters have been filed and 140 disposed in its appellate jurisdiction. In its original jurisdiction, in which the Court presides over disputes arising under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, 18 matters have been heard with 16 disposed.
Perhaps what is even more significant about the work of the Court during the period is the fact that it is increasing, as was seen by the 67% increase in judgments delivered by the Court between 2013 and 2014.
As an indication of the quality of judgments produced by the CCJ, the Court was in 2013 awarded the ‘Most Important Published Decision’ by the Global Arbitration Review for its decision in the matter British Caribbean Bank v AG of Belize. While the decision given in Shanique Myrie v Barbados in which Myrie, a Jamaican, accused Barbados of violating her right to free moment, has been hailed as a “landmark” decision.
“The Court has, in fact, done a lot of work; it has been well done and it has been received by the persons and corporations who have benefited from the adjudication of the court,” notes Sir Dennis. In his view “former President Justice de la Bastide insisted on laying down the groundwork for judicial excellence in the CCJ”.
The CCJ has also been actively engaged in working with judiciaries around the Region to improve their delivery of justice. The Court has been named the implementing agency for the the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, which is a Regional five-year Caribbean initiative funded under an arrangement with the Government of Canada. In February, under JURIST, the CCJ, in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), launched a pilot project to reduce delay and backlog for the Supreme Court of Grenada.
The CCJ is also set to embark on a training programme in Belize next week when the Court holds sittings there, making Belize the fourth country to host CCJ sittings outside of the Court’s headquarters here in Trinidad.
With the selection process of judges for the CCJ being in the hands of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Sir Dennis says it is one of the most independently appointed courts anywhere in the world. And he points to judgments which have gone against governments of members of the courts “and there has never been any attempt by any government to seek to influence judgments of the CCJ”.
The President of the Court remains optimistic that all Member States will inevitably replace the British Privy Council with the CCJ.
It is an evolutionary process. The Privy Council having been the final court of appeal of CARICOM countries for hundreds of years,” says Sir Dennis.
To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of its inauguration, the Court will be unveiling a photographic exhibition depicting the history of the Court over the last ten years which will be open to the public from Monday 20 April, 2015, at the headquarters of the CCJ in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. (CCJ Press Release)