EXPERTS EXAMINE DEVELOPMENTS IN CARIBBEAN LAW
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) - The prime minister of Barbados told Monday night's opening of a three-day symposium examining developments in Caribbean law that such a forum was necessary to explore the strength and durability of the pillars on which the regional integration movement rests.
"Did we get it right the first time? Or is there room for improvement? And which reforms precisely would be appropriate?" Prime Minister David Thompson asked delegates attending the opening ceremony of the inaugural gathering on "Current Developments in Caribbean Community Law".
Thompson, who has lead responsibility for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Single Market and Economy (CSME), said that an essential corollary to these issues is the prognosis for the future of the region.
"I am fully cognisant of the dire fate prophesied by some for the Community, perhaps most wittily 'CARI-COM(E); CARI-GONE'. However, I believe, similar to Mark Twain's description of rumours of his death, that these predictions of doom are 'grossly exaggerated'," Thompson told the opening ceremony.
The Barbados prime minister said that he has often stated that sporadic disagreements among member states of a community "do not equate to disunity, but rather, differences of opinion on how best to achieve such unity.
"Indeed, no member state has so far dissented from the view that we should embrace regional unity and this convergence, in my views, is the core of the matter," he said, noting that the issue would form the basis of a topic for discussions among the legal luminaries who "will no doubt treat this issue in far greater depth than I could ever hope to do here".
Thompson said that a critical element of a "just and equitable market such as we are minded to achieve" is the existence of fair competition among business enterprises. He said he also welcomed the establishment of the Competition Commission, whose functions include monitoring anti-competitive practices of enterprises operating in the CSME and investigating and arbitrating cross-border disputes.
"In order to more efficiently achieve these objectives, the commission is empowered to, inter alia, order payment of compensation to persons affected by anti-competitive business conduct and to impose fines for breaches of the rules of competition in the Community," he said.
But Thompson said that as a backdrop to the regulations is the spectre of the current global financial and economic crisis, noting that delegates would be discussing the consequences of this recession "on our attempts to forge a viable regional market and economy and the opportunities which it may present for us to take advantage of as a regional grouping".
The event, which brought together legal luminaries from Caricom countries, was organised by the Caribbean Law Institute Centre (CLIC), in association with the Caricom Secretariat and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
CCJ President Michael de la Bastide, speaking on developments in judicial protection of fundamental rights in the Commonwealth Caribbean, said he would like to see the award of vindicatory damages so hedged around with rules and restrictions "that its usefulness as a tool for the enforcement of constitutionally protected rights and freedoms would be impaired". CMC
I thank my readers for drawing my attention to the errors in the above article and I apologize to the Rt. Hon. Mr. Justice Michael de la Bastide for the oversight.
My readers can be reassured that the full text published on the 21st day of November (http://caribbeancourtofjustice.blogspot.com/2009/11/key-note-address-by-rt.html) has been published with the appropriate permissions.
The correct quotation of the President is below:
The question whether, and if so, how, vindicatory damages are distinguishable from exemplary damages, has provoked a good deal of discussion both by judges and academics. Initially, the tendency was to identify and highlight perceived differences between the two types of damages. For example, the point was made that while exemplary damages are punitive, vindicatory are not. It was also suggested that exemplary damages focus more on the offender while vindicatory damages focus on the right infringed. The differences between them in my view are not all that clear-cut. They are differences more of emphasis than of substance. There is clearly a great deal of overlap between the two. The Privy Council has itself come around to accepting that both forms of damages have a good deal in common. In the recent case of Takitota v The Attorney General (  UK PC 11) from The Bahamas the Board held that to award both exemplary and vindicatory damages would result in a duplication. In delivering the judgment of the Board Lord Carswell said at paragraph :
“The award of damages for breach of constitutional rights has much the same object as the common law award of exemplary damages”.
 My final word on this topic is that I would not like to see the award of vindicatory damages so hedged around with rules and restrictions that its usefulness as a tool for the enforcement of constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, would be impaired.