The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has been in the news quite often over the last year, especially in light of the highly-publicised, contentious Shanique Myrie case. On October 4 last year, the case concluded with the court ruling that Myrie should be awarded a total of Bds$75,000 or $3.6m Jamaican dollars. However, it was reported on January 18 that the CCJ lacks the mechanism to enforce the judgement. It is also in the news today as another Caribbean country, Dominica, has received Britain’s approval to make the CCJ its final court of appeal.
This Fact Friday, we share some information about the CCJ, which was conceptualised as an alternative to the Privy Council as the final court of appeal for countries in the English-speaking Caribbean.
- The idea to establish a separate court of appeals for English colonies was first discussed in a March 6, 1901 editorial in the Daily Gleaner.
- Sixty-nine years later, the Jamaican delegation to the Sixth Meeting of the Heads of Government conference of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries, tabled a proposal for the establishment of a Regional Court of Appeal. The press release from the event stated: “The Conference discussed the idea for the establishment of a Regional Court of Appeal. A general but not unanimous view was expressed that it was desirable that Commonwealth Caribbean countries should move towards the termination of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.”
- The Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice was signed by the CARICOM states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago on February 14, 2001. St Vincent and the Grenadine and Dominica signed on two years later.
- The Seal of the Caribbean Court of Justice (photo above) was designed by Brent Matthew and Shawn Chong Ashing of Trinidad and Tobago, following a CARICOM-wide competition in 2004. It was subsequently crafted in brass and teak by renowned Caribbean chemist, metallurgist and jeweller, Gillian Bishop.
- The seven judges of the CCJ are:
- President, The Rt Hon Mr Justice Dennis Byron, from St Kitts and Nevis
- The Hon Mr Justice Jacob Wit, a native of The Netherlands now residing in Curaçao
- The Hon Mr Justice Winston Anderson, from Jamaica
- The Hon Mme Justice Desiree Bernard, from Guyana
- The Hon Mr Justice David Hayton, from the United Kingdom
- The Hon Mr Justice Rolston Nelson, from Trinidad and Tobago
- The Hon Mr Justice Adrian Saunders, from St Vincent and the Grenadines