The Caribbean Court of Justice has exemplified a lucidity of logic and learning
September 12, 2012 - Stabroek News
In Saturday’s Stabroek News (September 8) a Jamaican attorney-at-law, Hugh Wildman, reportedly asserted, inter alia, that the quality of judgements of the Privy Council is “far superior” to those emanating from our Caribbean Court of Justice and in purported proof of his conclusion, he cited an unspecified case in Guyana. His credentials seem to be anchored in his practice of unverified ubiquity but, given the notion of contemporary democracy in vogue, a more discerning profession ought to accord his view the merit or otherwise it deserves.
After more than half of a century of gestation the CCJ finally entered this regional space in response to the neo-colonial global construct which continued to bedevil the Caribbean after their respective political Independence ceremonies. Guyana had taken the first step in this direction by abolishing appeals to the Privy Council since 1970. Contemporary wisdom prompted the vision that Independence dictated that Caribbean states ought to compete collectively from a position of parallel or alternative decision-making in every sphere of our statehood.
The CCJ’s rationale and leitmotif were to create and foster an endogenous jurisprudence without peeling away our vestigial linkages with our common law heritage. Out of this well shall be drawn the judicial wisdom but in a more relevant localised form, palatably appealing to the intended or affected consumer. There have been many very perceptive observations over the last decade, or maybe longer, from their Lordships of the Privy Council which supported the establishment of a regional court of last resort.
Guyana, and I had the honour and privilege of representing its interests on this front until I demitted office on December 6, 2011, submitted to both the original and appellate jurisdictions of the CCJ from its incarnation and, speaking for myself, this apex court has exemplified a lucidity of logic and learning, together with a didactic dispassion in its judgements, notwithstanding the profession’s nervous nuances in terms of political influence in its formative years. We should do well to remind ourselves that Justice Michael De La Bastide was a Privy Councillor prior to his appointment as the first President of this court which no doubt has its imperfections, such as its lack of diversity. Speaking from my perspective as a former Justice of Appeal in Guyana, their decisions can withstand the scrutiny of the most forensic analysis humanly possible. Confucius is credited with the aphorism that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. I might add “but it is the will to do so that matters more.” To this extent, Marley’s incantations about mental slavery seem to have eluded the psyche of his compatriot.
I conclude by asking Mr Wildman this question: How would a citizen of the United Kingdom react to the adoption of a Caribbean Court as their final court?
Justice Charles R Ramson SC
Retired Attorney General and
Minister of Legal Affairs