October 31, 2007

A Call for Public Education

Victims need justice too
Source: Nation Newspaper - Barbados
Published on: 10/30/07.

Kindly allow me space in your column to express my views about abolishing capital punishment in this island.

Yes, indeed everybody wants to see criminals get leniency or acquitted for heinous crimes, such as murder, but not a soul is concerned about the victims or their families or their children.

The said people who would like to see justice done promptly for criminals never once express their poignance for the victims. Some want Government to discontinue hanging in Barbados.

As far as I am concerned, capital punishment no longer exists in the Caribbean, so this load of rot about capital punishment nonsense is just a joke.

Almost every day, some innocent person dies as a result of lawless youngsters who have either no regard for human lives or the law (period). But all you are hearing is people talking glib, as usual, about fair and prompt trials for criminals.

Not a soul, in Bajan parlance, ain't feeling for the victims' families or their children.

The question I am asking is what is the purpose of this Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)? What purpose does it serve? I haven't heard of anything being done since we, the Caribbean people, implemented this CCJ system.

October 23, 2007

Justice Wit: Start Behaving as Adults

Source: The Daily Herald - Philipsburg, Saint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Published: Monday, October 22, 2007
Former judge on the Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Bob Wit says Curaçao and St. Maarten should use the constitutional change process to take the necessary steps towards more maturity, instead of remaining dependent on the Netherlands.

He made his comments during a lecture at University of the Netherlands Antilles in Curaçao on the occasion of the establishment the Dutch Caribbean Human Rights Committee last Thursday.

Wit, appointed as judge on the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice on June 1, 2005, said that in the negotiations for new constitutional structures, the Dutch, based on all that had gone wrong up to now, had been seeking to institutionalise some form of supervision on Antillean politicians as to their way of managing public finances, to avoid reoccurrence of the financial mess that had emerged.

“Where they seem to go wrong is the way in which they apparently seek to establish that supervision, as they seem bent on taking that responsibility permanently out of our hands,” Wit said in his lecture entitled “Taking ownership of Human Rights towards a maturing Dutch Caribbean.”

He said that, understandably, the approach of the islands had been to resist the measures of supervision as much as possible in an effort to give away as little “autonomy” as possible.

In Wit’s view, both approaches are to be deplored. “Going back to the basics, we have to be mindful that this whole enterprise of constitutional restructuring should be aimed at furthering the right of self-determination for us, the Dutch Caribbean peoples.”

He said that at the same time, the people should be mindful of the fact that “this is not a right per se, but one that implies a duty for us to foster in a meaningful way the high ideals of democratic governance.”

He said focusing only on the external outline of constitutional arrangements such as a separate status similar to that of Aruba, the islands would have achieved little because internally, and thus basically, everything would have remained the same.

Judge Wit continued: “In order to mature in the big bad world of today, one needs to take responsibility for those things that matter. One cannot claim the right to stand on one’s own two feet whilst staying in bed. One has to get up and stand.

The right to carry responsibility for one’s own affairs, therefore, implies that one starts carrying that responsibility. Even if it were true that ‘mother knows best,’ we cannot accept that ‘mommy’ will take care of us to eternity.

“And so, any arrangement that sees to it that the Netherlands will forever be in charge of our affairs will reduce us to eternal adolescents, pitiful creatures indeed. This would be a violation of our right to human dignity which is, I think, the most fundamental right there is.”

He said that to prevent this impending violation, “we have to start behaving as adults. We have to take our fate in our own hands even though, for the time being at least, we will stay within the confines of our almost imaginary Kingdom which, by the way, is still real enough to produce both limitations and benefits for us.”

October 21, 2007

Embrace the CCJ

'Embrace the Caribbean Court of Justice'
Source: Barbados Advocate
Sun Oct 21 2007
The batch of 22 new attorneys who were recently admitted to the Bar have been urged by one of their colleagues to lobby their respective policy directors to embrace the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The comments came last Friday from career banker, Hilford Murrell, during his response after the new attorneys were admitted to practise law in Barbados by this country's Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons.

Noting that the complement included Barbadians, Guyanese, Trinidadians and Jamaicans, Murrell said, "I suggest that there is one unfinished business that we are duty-bound to address. This concerns regional acceptance of the CCJ as the final Appellate Court."

He added: "With the bonded friendships that we have cultivated over the years, let us inspire our colleagues and classmates to lobby their respective policy directors and in the words of a statement attributed to your Lordship in the UK press The Guardian Weekly "to entomb the last vestige of colonialism by embracing the CCJ."

The new attorney observed that in so doing, even though economic independence may be dwarfed by globalisation, at least as a region "we are assured that we can still stand tall in the identity of our own Court".

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the regional judicial tribunal established on February 14, 2001 by the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. The agreement was signed on that date by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states of: Antigua & Barbuda; Barbados; Belize; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Lucia; Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. Two further states, Dominica and St. Vincent & The Grenadines, signed the agreement on February 15, 2003, bringing the total number of signatories to 12. The CCJ was inaugurated on April 16, 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. It had a long gestation period, beginning in 1970 when the Jamaican delegation at the Sixth Heads of Government Conference, which convened in Jamaica, proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal in substitution for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The Caribbean Court of Justice is designed to be more than a court of last resort for member states of the Caribbean Community. For, in addition to replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the CCJ is vested with an original jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation and application of the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community. In effect, the CCJ is designed to exercise both an appellate and an original jurisdiction.

October 11, 2007

Relying on CCJ Case ( Jamaican Extradition Case)

Jamaican businessman to be sent to US
published: Wednesday | October 10, 2007

Source : Jamaica Gleaner

Jamaican businessman Trevor Forbes is to be extradited to the United States to face drug -trafficking charges as a result of a United Kingdom Privy Council ruling on Monday.

Forbes, 58, of Wickie Wackie, Bull Bay in St. Andrew, is to be tried for allegedly arranging to import large quantities of marijuana into the United States (U.S.).

The U.S. authorities asked the Jamaican Government to extradite Forbes. He has been in custody since July 2003 when an extradition order was made in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

Forbes' lawyer , Frank Phipps Q.C., argued that the Extradition Act was unconstitutional because it breached Forbes' rights under section 16 of the Constitution, of freedom of movement and immunity from expulsion. He relied on the Privy Council's decision in the Caribbean Court of Justice case to support his argument that the Extradition Act should have been passed as 'special legislation' with a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament since it affected his client's fundamental human rights.

Solicitor General Michael Hylton, Q.C., submitted in response, that the Extradition Act did not breach or affect Forbes' constitutional rights, since the Constitution authorised the State to pass laws to allow for the extradition of persons to face trial in other countries for crimes committed abroad. The rights were, therefore, subject to such laws.

He argued that the Extradition Act contained reasonable safeguards for the rights of accused persons.

The panel, comprising Lords Hoffman, Scott, Rodger, Walker and Mance agreed with the Solicitor General's submissions and unanimously dismissed the appeal. They took the unusual step of not reserving judgment but instead delivered judgement immediately after hearing submissions.

The judgment could affect many other Commonwealth countries which have similar constitutional provisions and extradition laws, various interested persons, including representatives of the Commonwealth Secretariat, attended the hearing.

Attorneys Raphael Codlin and George Soutar appeared with Mr. Phipps and Director of Public Prosecutions Kent Pantry, Q.C., and Assistant Attorney General Julie Thompson appeared with Mr. Hylton.

October 05, 2007

Women Lawyers on Top!

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Express
Port-of-Spain,Trinidad and Tobago
Thursday October 4, 2007

IN the past decade and a half, there has been an increased proportion of the numbers of women in the legal profession of Trinidad and Tobago, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide has said.

He pointed out that over the last 15 years, the number of women graduating from law school and those admitted to practise locally had considerably exceeded the number of their male counterparts, from between a ratio of two to one to a ratio of three to one.

De la Bastide made the comments during a lecture on Monday night at the Hall of Justice, Knox Street, Port of Spain, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trinidad and Tobago Law Association.

He recalled that when he returned to this country from England in 1961 there were very few women practising law in this country and that remained the case for some time thereafter.
"But over time the pendulum has swung," he added.

He also noted that in the recent years the "lion's share" of prizes awarded at law school graduation has gone to women. "There is no doubt that the regional as well as the local bar has benefited immeasurably from the infusion of talent into the profession produced by the removal of the gender barrier," he said.

During his speech he regaled the audience with stories of the Law Association and of "colourful" lawyers of the past.

He recalled one lawyer that had withdrawn an appeal but, after a fellow lawyer reviewed the appeal and pointed out that it had some merit, decided to "withdraw his withdrawal".

He also recalled in the old chambers having a large block of ice in an aluminium basin as the only source of refreshment, and a ceiling fan which would blow any unsecured documents all over the court room and have lawyers chasing after them.

De la Bastide expressed his hope that members of the Law Association would continue to cherish and uphold the traditional attitudes of the bar, specifically the emphasis on its independence, camaraderie and fellowship between members, and also its rigid adherence to high professional standards of competence and integrity.

He also urged members to support their judges when it is needed and "to do everything in their power to conserve the unity in the profession as well as on the bench".

In attendance at the lecture were acting Chief Justice Roger Hamel-Smith, retired judges, magistrates and a number of lawyers

October 04, 2007

Marshall Burnett Case - Jamaica

Privy Council Appeal No. 41 of 2004

Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (1998)
Limited and Others Appellants


(1) Hon. Syringa Marshall-Burnett
(2) The Attorney General of Jamaica Respondents



Delivered the 3rd February 2005

Present at the hearing:-
Lord Bingham of Cornhill
Lord Steyn
Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
Baroness Hale of Richmond
Lord Carswell

[Delivered by Lord Bingham of Cornhill]

Marshall Burnett Commentaries: 1

The Privy Council and the CCJ: Understanding the judgement
published: Sunday February 13, 2005
Source: Sunday Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica

NICHOLSON: "The Board has no difficulty in accepting, and does not doubt, that the CCJ Agreement represents a serious and conscientious endeavour to create a new regional court of high quality and complete independence..."

ON THURSDAY February 4, the London-based Privy Council issued its judgment in the case of The Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights et al v. The Hon. Syringa Marshall-Burnett and the attorney-general of Jamaica. In this case, the central question was whether the procedure adopted by the government in enacting legislation on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) met the requirements set out in the Jamaican Constitu-tion. The case is therefore popularly referred to as the CCJ Case.


Naturally, the decision of the Privy Council has already prompted a significant level of public commentary, as befits a healthy, vibrant democracy. In this article, I wish to outline the main issues considered by the Privy Council, and consider aspects of the reasoning of Jamaica's highest court. From the outset, though, I should reiterate that the government believes strongly in the rule of law and constitutional governance, and that, consequently, there can be no doubt that the decision of the Privy Council will be implemented.

In the CCJ Case, the Privy Council considered three acts of Parliament designed to abolish appeals to the Privy Council and to substitute appeals to the Caribbean Court of Justice in place of appeals to the Privy Council. The acts considered by the Privy Council also sought to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as a court of original jurisdiction to hear cases concerning the interpretation of the treaty establishing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (the CSME).

In reaching its decision on whether the three acts of Parliament were constitutional, the Privy Council paid considerable attention to the structure of the higher courts in Jamaica, namely, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The Privy Council emphasized that these higher courts are entrenched within the Constitution, and, in particular, that certain provisions designed to safeguard the independence of judges are protected by entrenchment.


Where a provision is entrenched in the Jamaican Constitution, this means that a special procedure needs to be followed for that provision to be changed. So, the Constitution indicates that entrenched provisions can only be changed by a two-thirds majority of the members of both Houses of Parliament, and that certain time constraints need to be respected.

The Privy Council noted that as the final court of appeal for cases from Jamaica, the Caribbean Court of Justice would hear appeals from our Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Their lordships also observed that the Caribbean Court of Justice, as contemplated under the three acts of Parliament, would not be entrenched in the Jamaican Constitution. They then reasoned as follows:

"The Constitution seeks to protect the independence and security of tenure of judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, by entrenching certain provisions about these courts;

"If Parliament creates a court that can overrule decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and that court is not similarly entrenched, this would be tantamount to amending the entrenched provisions concerning the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal;

"It therefore followed that any legislation creating such a court would have to be enacted following the procedure which would have had to be followed if those entrenched provisions were being amended;

"Consequently, the three acts were not validly passed because they did not follow the procedure for amending entrenched provisions of the Constitution."


By this line of reasoning, therefore, the Privy Council struck down the three acts of Parliament. In doing so, however, their Lordships noted the nature of the effort that has so far gone into the establishment of the CCJ. Referring to themselves as the Board, they observed:

"The Board has no difficulty in accepting, and does not doubt, that the CCJ Agreement represents a serious and conscientious endea-vour to create a new regional court of high quality and complete independence, enjoying all the advantages which a regional court could hope to enjoy."

They also noted that the acts in question did not, singly or cumulatively, weaken the constitutional protection enjoyed by the higher judiciary in Jamaica. Their concern, however, was that the acts gave rise to the risk that governments could amend the CCJ Agreement, and thereby undermine "the protection given to the people of Jamaica by entrenched provisions of Chapter VII of the Constitution."

One additional aspect of the judgment may be mentioned briefly. The Privy Council has not challenged the view that appeals to the Privy Council may be abolished by a majority of all the members of each House of Parliament. As the Privy Council notes, Section 110 of the Constitution, which addresses the place of the Privy Council in our judicial system, is not entrenched. In the view of the Privy Council, therefore, the repeal of Section 110, without more, would not weaken the protection to be given to the people of Jamaica.

The Most Honourable Prime Minister has indicated that the Jamaican government will be consulting with its CARICOM partners as to the way forward, particularly in regard to arrangements for the Single Market and Economy.

It is reported that the Opposition JLP wishes to meet with the govern-ment for consultations on this matter; the government would like this to happen so that we can formulate appropriate solutions for the future of the justice system in Jamaica.

A.J. Nicholson Q.C. - (former) Attorney General and Minister of Justice- Jamaica

Marshall Burnett Commentaries: 2

Unity needed on key issues
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
published: Wednesday February 1, 2006
Anthony Gifford, Contributor

ONE YEAR has passed since the historic decision in the case of Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights vs Syringa Marshall-Burnett. The Privy Council struck down the Bills which the Government had promoted in order to secure Jamaica's participation in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The judges ruled that for Jamaica to install a new final appellate court, the court should be entrenched in the Constitution in the same way as the existing courts are entrenched. Entrenching the CCJ would ensure that a future government which disliked its decisions could not withdraw from it without opposition agreement.


Since then there has been no move towards the bi-partisan agreement which is needed. Both sides agree in principle that Jamaica should join the CCJ, but cooperation seems to be an alien concept to our political leaders. It is the same with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, on which both sides agreed many years ago. It is the same with the declaration of Jamaica as a Republic in place of having the Queen as head of state.

All these issues have a common theme: the assertion of Jamaica's sovereignty and independence. The retention of the Queen as head of state may be merely symbolic, but what it symbolises is a colonial link which should be utterly rejected. The existing chapter in the Constitution on fundamental rights is written in legalistic language derived from Europe. Its provisions are inadequate and it has serious flaws. A Jamaican Constitutional Commission took soundings from the public and presented an agreed draft 10 years ago. It has lain on the shelf because the political leaders could not find common ground. So Jamaicans are left without the benefit of a home-grown, comprehensive and readable Charter of Rights.
The same paralysis prevents any movement on the CCJ, which is now up and running without us. There is a reluctance, shared by many attorneys, to commit ourselves to a Caribbean court while our local justice system is under so much pressure. Many argue that at least Jamaica enjoys a first-class final appeal court, even if it is provided by courtesy of the former colonial ruler. Like Hamlet we stand on the brink, preferring to 'bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.'

Those who shrink from change point to the excellence of the Privy Council. I have pleaded several cases there in the last few years and I can confirm that the judges are erudite, well prepared and keen to promote fundamental human rights. If you can afford to get there (and the costs are huge), the Privy Council will give you a fair hearing.


That does not mean that impartial and learned decisions can only be made by British judges. We are in danger of assuming a mindset of subservience, forgetting that the Caribbean has also produced great jurists. The region has shown excellence in academic, medical and other professional areas. I believe that it can fashion an appellate court which will show equal excellence in the delivery of justice. The court will also be far more accessible to our people and our attorneys.

The new leaders now emerging in both parties have a duty to put national interests first; to stop playing politics with constitutional change; and to realise that the basic consensus which exists on these issues needs to be translated into a platform of agreed reforms.

Anthony Gifford is an attorney-at-law in Jamaica

Marshall Burnett Commentaries: 3

Separation of powers and the CCJ
By: Dr Hamid Ghany
Source : Trinidad Guardian
February 20, 2005

The recent judgment by the Privy Council in the matter of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (1998) Ltd vs the Hon Syringa Marshall-Burnett and the Attorney General of Jamaica (Privy Council Appeal No 41 of 2004) that was handed down on February 3, instant has opened a major debate about the protection of the Separation of Powers in all of the member states who will share the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
According to the Privy Council:
“The three Acts do not, singly or cumulatively, weaken the constitutional protection enjoyed by the higher judiciary of Jamaica.

The question is whether, consistently with the constitutional regime just described, a power to review the decisions of the higher courts of Jamaica may properly be entrusted, without adopting the procedure mandated by the Constitution for the amendment of entrenched provisions, to a new court which, whatever its other merits, does not enjoy the protection accorded by the Constitution to the higher judiciary of Jamaica.

In answering this question, the test is not whether the protection provided by the CCJ Agreement is stronger or weaker than that which existed before, but whether, in substance, it is different, for if it is different, the effect of the legislation is to alter, within the all-embracing definition in section 49(9)(b), the regime established by Chapter VII.

The Board has no difficulty in accepting, and does not doubt, that the CCJ Agreement represents a serious and conscientious endeavour to create a new regional court of high quality and complete independence, enjoying all the advantages which a regional court could hope to enjoy.

But Dr Barnett is correct to point out that the Agreement may be amended, and such amendment ratified, by the governments of the contracting states, and such amendment could take effect in the domestic law of Jamaica by affirmative resolution. The risk that the governments of the contracting states might amend the CCJ Agreement so as to weaken its independence is, it may be hoped, fanciful. But an important function of a constitution is to give protection against governmental misbehaviour, and the three Acts give rise to a risk which did not exist in the same way before.

The Board is driven to conclude that the three Acts, taken together, do have the effect of undermining the protection given to the people of Jamaica by entrenched provisions of Chapter VII of the Constitution. From this, it follows that the procedure appropriate for amendment of an entrenched provision should have been followed.” (para 21).

The Privy Council has concluded that the mechanism of amendment of the provisions of the CCJ Treaty are such that the domestic law of Jamaica would have been adversely affected if the legislation giving effect to the provisions of the Treaty in respect of the Judiciary had been implemented.

The Separation of Powers is one of the sacred components of every Constitution in the Commonwealth Caribbean and the means by which it is implemented in each Constitution has to be gleaned from the Constitution itself.

The danger in Jamaica (and by extension in those other Commonwealth Caribbean countries that share relatively similar constitutional provisions as Jamaica) is that the Executive and the Legislature will gain the upper hand over the Judiciary when compared to the existing constitutional provisions.

As it stands now, judges are protected from easy removal by the fact that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council enjoys the right to make the final determination in respect of the removal of a Chief Justice or a Judge.

Prime Minister Manning clearly established that point in his address to the Senate last Tuesday, in respect of the current controversy in this country involving the Chief Justice and the Executive. He clearly had to cite the fact that the Privy Council would have the final say in order to assuage the population. Would the population be equally as assuaged if the CCJ was the final arbiters in the matter?

The reality is that this controversy in Trinidad and Tobago when coupled with the recent Privy Council judgment serve to weaken the case for the CCJ primarily because there is no political consensus in the region at the level of the wider population, or across the political aisles in each of the countries, for us to have a CCJ.

The political management of how the CCJ is to be introduced has been grossly mishandled and this Privy Council judgment has blindsided Caricom. Within two weeks of that judgment, the controversy in Trinidad and Tobago has provided food for thought about the ramifications of weakening the Separation of Powers in relation to the Judiciary.

After all, it would only take an affirmative resolution by the Jamaican Parliament to confirm the alteration of the Treaty to weaken the Separation of Powers. The proposal for change would come from the Heads of Government and the national Parliament would be dominated by a Government majority so that affirmative resolution is guaranteed (without a special majority). There would be no need for a time delay of six months, a special majority in both Houses of Parliament and a referendum to effect the changes as is the case now in Jamaica.

Caricom has also to understand that three member countries have suffered political instability over the years to the extent that the constitutional government was overthrown, namely Haiti, Suriname and Grenada.

Trinidad and Tobago almost joined that category in 1990, while Guyana had a long history of political abuse during the Burnham years and Caricom did nothing.

The environment in which the CCJ is expected to operate must be politically stable, otherwise the Treaty will be meaningless if there is a period of prolonged bickering about recognising a government, such as is happening now with Haiti in Caricom.

Are we prepared to surrender our court system and its existing protection so easily in the name of completing our cycle of independence?

Or, would we prefer to satisfy ourselves that there is widespread consensus for the change and an equal level of protection for our Judiciary before we give away what we have?

October 01, 2007

'The CCJ and the Legal Profession'

Firmly stands the CCJ Analysis
by Rickey Singh
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Source: Jamaica Observer

A West Indian jurist of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has made a strong plea for the region's legal fraternity to help in maintaining "the integrity" of the Port-of-Spain- based institution.

For Vincentian-born Adrian Saunders, former acting chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the CCJ "must be able, at all times, to command support and receive encouragement from the legal profession".In delivering the feature address at a conference of the Bar Association of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in Grenada last weekend, Justice Saunders argued that the region's legal profession was, after all, "the natural constituency" of the CCJ.

Speaking on the topic, 'The Caribbean Court of Justice and the Legal Profession', the former chairman of the Judicial Education Institute of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court recalled that the region's legal fraternity was foremost in its principled advocacy of Caricom substituting the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with a Caribbean Court of Appeal.

In his assessment, from that early period of commendable support by the legal profession for such a regional appeal court to the inauguration in April 2005 of the CCJ, greater has become the necessity for the legal fraternity to demonstrate such encouragement for the court.

The CCJ, with its panel of seven eminent jurists from the Caribbean, United Kingdom and The Netherlands, stands unique in having original jurisdiction for settlement of disputes arising from the Caricom Treaty on trade and investment matters, while serving as a final appellate court for civil and criminal cases.The court's ceremonial inauguration that had coincided with the initial impeachment proceeding against Trinidad and Tobago's Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, underscored a battle won with the support received from the region's legal fraternity against any political involvement in the appointment or removal of its judges.

No 'Hangman's court'
Saunders dismissed as false and without any merit, attempts by some critics to caricature the CCJ as a so-called "hangman's court" in defence of their own anxieties to retain access to the Privy Council.

Speaking also with some 19 years of experience in private practice as an attorney, Saunders told the participants at the OECS Bar Association meeting that it was important for the CCJ and development of Caribbean jurisprudence for there to be the widest possible access to the regional court as a final appellate institution, instead of a continuing dependence on the Privy Council.

Currently, only Barbados and Guyana have the CCJ as their final appellate court. The Bahamas, Suriname and Haiti have, for different reasons, shown no interest in the CCJ.The Eastern Caribbean states have been rationalising their seeming lack of enthusiasm to delink from the Privy Council by pointing to constitutional hurdles to be overcome, but none has so far initiated any move for the CCJ to replace the Privy Council.

The new Jamaica Labour Party administration has pledged to let the people of Jamaica decide on this issue by way of a national referendum. The Opposition People's National Party has always been in favour of the CCJ but ran into problem of implementation by a Privy Council judgment.

In Trinidad and Tobago, both the People's National Movement and the United National Congress have been doing the 'twist' by their on-and-off approaches to membership of the CCJ. Latest signal from Prime Minister Manning is that access of the CCJ would be a priority issue once his party is returned to power following the new general elections.

Our jurisprudence
In his articulation on Caribbean jurisprudence, Justice Saunders noted that its promotion was "not just about civil and criminal matters, there is also the original jurisdiction of the CCJ to consider." There is no Privy Council or other international precedents here to adopt, discard or massage. Our CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy) jurisprudence starts with a blank slate. "There is, of course, a considerable body of case law of the ECJ (European Court of Justice). The reality is that the ECJ, in many ways, made the European Community what it is today..."

He reminded his audience that the "broad platform" on which Caribbean jurisprudence rests "is the common, historic, political, economic and cultural experiences we enjoy in this region; our mutual history of slavery, indenture, displacement, resistance and struggle..."

"Colonialism", he said, "has bequeathed us a legacy of democratic structures and traditions premised on those that exist in the United Kingdom. With few exceptions, we boast the same limitations of the Westminster parliamentary system, a comparable body of pre-independence law and written constitutions modelled along the same lines..."

It was on "the solid edifice" of a shared body of law and judicial decision-making, said Saunders, that Caribbean jurisprudence was being strengthened with the CCJ."It is an authentic jurisprudence," he said, "that exists and that has contributed and continues to contribute to an enrichment of the common law."

Saunders, therefore, could not think of a more fitting description than to label this jurisprudence as "Caribbean" and to declare that "there is no better-suited entity to promote it than a Caribbean Court of Justice - with the support of the region's legal fraternity."