July 30, 2007

Tenure of CCJ Judge

Source: Stabroek News - Georgetown,Guyana
By Oscar Ramjeet
Sunday, July 29th 2007

The Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) has extended the tenure of Justice Duke Pollard to age 75 as a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) after the RJLSC was given the mandate by way of a Protocol to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ, and signed by all the Participating Countries, for the extension.

It seems as if the Protocol was only given to extend the tenure of a particular judge and not all judges, according to an email received from Dr Michael Anthony Lilla, Court Protocol and Information Officer. This was in response to an email sent to him inquiring whether Justice Pollard was still a judge of the CCJ since he had already attained the age of 72, the retiring age of CCJ judges.

Dr Lilla had some time ago said he was not aware that steps were taken to extend the age to 75, but in a recent email he said the RJLSC has in fact extended Pollard's tenure to 75 on June 8.

The email from Dr. Lilla reads: "By a Protocol to the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice, recently signed by all the participating countries, the regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission was given the power to extend the tenure of a judge of the CCJ to age 75. The power to extend is exercisable if circumstances so require during the evolutionary phase of the court's existence, which is defined as the period ending when the full complement of nine judges has been appointed by the commission. The commission in exercise of this power has extended the tenure of Justice Pollard to age 75, and he, therefore, continues to be a judge of the court."

There is no information on the CCJ website to indicate that the tenure of Justice Pollard has been extended to 75. It was only revealed after the Court Protocol and Information Officer was contacted via email.

Justice Pollard never served as an advocate, or a judge, in his long legal career but is an experienced legal draftsman, and wrote extensively on international law and has participated in drafting many Caricom agreements. Several jurists ask why the regional governments went so far as to extend the age of a judge to 75 when the CCJ has had little work to do since its establishment a little more than two years ago.

According to the CCJ website, since the court was formally inaugurated two years and three months ago, on April 16, 2005 only eight substantive appeals were heard and an application for leave to appeal.

Pollard was sworn in as a CCJ judge on January 15, 2005 and he would have served two years and four months when he attained the age of 72.

When the CCJ was inaugurated, its President Michael de la Bastide and six other judges were appointed -- two short of the full complement of nine, but jurists in the region feel that since only two jurisdictions, Guyana and Barbados, now constitute the court there was no need to have as many as six judges and the president.

It seems that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the OECS states will have to get the blessings of the opposition before there can be a constitutional amendment to remove the Privy Council as the final court, and this might take a very long time.

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