July 29, 2007

Point of Clarification ( Jamaica's Constitution Dilemma)

Source: Jamaica Gleaner
Sunday, July 29, 2007
By David Coore
I hope that Edward Seaga's former colleagues in the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will take note of his article on constitutional reform appearing in The Sunday Gleaner (Public Affairs) of last week. ....

Point of clarification
There is just one point in Mr. Seaga's article that needs to be clarified.
He states that the Privy Council decision that nullified the legislation establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court of appeal is based on their finding that the CCJ "was wrongly formulated and structured".

This is not so. On the contrary, the Privy Council in clear terms expressly stated that they had no fault to find with the structure of the CCJ. Their decision was based entirely on their interpretation of the Jamaican Constitution and the appropriate procedure for amending it.

The Privy Council concluded that the procedure adopted to pass the necessary legislation, though adequate to abolish appeals to the Privy Council, itself, was not appropriate for its replacement by a new court.

The appropriate procedure, in their view, would have involved the parliamentary support of the Opposition party. It is important to understand the basis of the Privy Council decision because that decision did not involve any necessity to revise the treaty establishing the CCJ or to restructure the court itself.

Subject to this technical but important clarification, I do hope that those who have the responsibility of revising our constitution (and this involves both the party that governs and the party in opposition in the legislature) will heed Mr. Seaga's timely exhortation that they get on with the job of implementing those matters that have been widely discussed, agreed, and can now be implemented.

David H. Coore, O.J., Q.C., Ministry of Justice

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