Forum: CCJ v Privy Council
The judge who'll head the new British Supreme Court says Caribbean and other Commonwealth cases are taking up too much time of the Privy Council.
That has added to the debate over the Privy Council as the final civil and criminal appellate court for the region, while there is a Caribbean Court of Justice set up in 2001 to fulfill that purpose.
To date, however, the CCJ serves only two countries in that capacity - Barbados and Guyana.
Some comments from officialdom:
Retaining the London-based Privy Council as the region's final court of appeal remains a priority for Trinidad and Tobago's opposition leader Basdeo Panday.
Jamaica's opposition Peoples National Party has said it agrees that Kingston and others in the region have overstayed their welcome at the Privy Council.
Grenada’s Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, said Caribbean governments should not be deterred from turning to their own court.(CMC)
President of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association Tapley Seaton is supporting calls for the Caribbean to stop using the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court of appeal.(CMC)
Now, have your say on the matter of CCJ v Privy Council.
We are a truly independent people and deserve our own court. Down with the Privy Council! Even if we may not be able to find
the money to fund the CCJ, we know Britain and the EU will give us the aid to do so. This proves our independence. We are
also going to become a republic. And though we are incapable of producing bananas anymore, that does not stop us from becoming
a post-colonial banana republic. Down with the colonialists! Forward with Chavez and Castro.
Many of the commentators speak about the "politicisation" of the CCJ without appreciating how the structure of the Court has
been designed to eliminate that possibility (financing with a Trust Fund, RJLSC appointing judges and fixing their terms and
conditions). Some speak of not being able to "trust" the CCJ.....on what basis? I find we are behaving like a "big man" who
is finding all kinds of excuses "not to leave his mother's house"....its such a pity that the region is still paralyzed by
The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have seen what the Judiciary has handed out to them when several cases were brought
up to the Courts in St. Vincent. The political interference by several politicians is deplorable, hence, the reason for us
to call for a stay of the Privy Council. Our people will tell you, who feels it knows it. While we agree that a home grown
court should be ideal, we do not have the confidence that justice will be dispensed to people who are not party affiliated.
I am sure that the Law Lords of Great Britain understand exactly what I am talking about when they review some of the cases
that go up to them. Great Britain has a responsibility to police the disrespect given to the people of these small islands
by vindictive Politicians through the local Justice system.
That the CCJ is in the Caribbean has no bearing on any effective Court in dispensing justice. The Caribbean, however, must
ensure its people that the Court's judges cannot be selected by political powers.
The Caribbean peopleand their leaders have been duly put on notice to set arrangements in place and cut the legal umbilical
After reading the past comments I am left a bit confused. Where does the presumption of the PC's independence come from? Just
because they may be less likely to accept bribes from our Caribbean governments does not mean that they and the country they
serve don't have interests that can and will most likely affect their judgments.
The experience of judicial appointments in our region is evidence enough that our democracies are not led by mature enough
individuals to ensure that the openness and transparency required in appointing Judges would exist. The treatment meted out
to Sir Brian Alleyne simply because he ruled against the government of Grenada is enough testimony that our leaders are not
mature enough to select our judges.
I understand the fears expressed by most writers, living in the caribbean is like living in a big village, and the expressed
fears of politicians' interference in the judicial system. Let me say we have to start somewhere and trust our intellectuals.
It is obvious Mother Country England (Privy Council) will not entertain us indefinitely, and so we need to hold our judges
accountable. Politicians/leaders must lead by example and sign on to the CCJ.
We don't trust the CCJ
It amazes me that we in the Caribbean are still battling if we should or should not have the CCJ as our highest court. It's
a real shame that we will wait till we are embarrassed by the British, when they eventually tell us that the service is no
longer free to us and it will be fazed out. Then we as a region would find ourselves scrambling to get our act together.
It is not just the Caribbean that is affected. The Privy Council provides such a service to all Commonwealth member states
that have chosen to retain the Privy Council as the final appellate court - it is a lot of work, of which the Caribbean has
been identified as a lion share of the workload.
Gerald LaTouche JP
I would like to say that some of our Caribbean nationals are only calling for such action because they still have a negative
attitude against the so-called ‘white-man’ ideas and way of life. This is sad because the Privy Council have been doing an
excellent job with our serious cases I am confident that most Caribbean nationals have my feelings. Yes, I have confidence
in our nationals, but it is our political ways that I am concerned about into the CCJ. We cannot and should not overlook this
important fact. I am one person who believes that Caribbean people can achieve any thing but as always politics is our downfall
and even the Privy Council members know this.
We as Caribbean people are not yet mature to have a Caribbean Court of Justice to replace the Privy Council. Can you imagine
what will happen if and when we have the CCJ as the final court of justice? Caribbean politicians … cannot bribe or corrupt
the Privy Council but they may do just that with the CCJ. We need the CCJ to remind us that there is something called laws
and regulations that MUST be obeyed.
It’s about time we let go of this incessant need to be associated with Britain.
I think it's been a long time coming but I think the Caribbean is finally ready to move on from the Privy Council.
I had thought that by now-almost 40 years after independence that the debate will be an evaluation of the CCJ-not whether
the CCJ should be our highest court.
I agree wholeheartedly with Danielle Jones. When breaking free and starting anew, it is never prim and proper as we would
like it to be. With that said, I do not suggest that we just accept the foolishness of the beginning stages that could arise.
The shame of our cricket is now matched by the great indignity of the Law Lords telling us plainly: Grow up, you have sovereignty,
so act responsibly like adults, and give the CCJ its due status and dignity". Our politicians are famous for reminding us
of the difference between "jokers", and true statesmen. Thank God for the candour of the Law Lords and St Kitts' former governor
general, who have exposed this sheer farce.
I am proud to be citizen of the Caribbean, and proud of the various institutions that we have set up for various reasons of
governance. Both the Privy Council and the CCJ are two important institutions that must be respected and are important for
ensuring good governance. In my opinion most countries in the region, if not all, have some more growth to make in terms of
maturity in good governance. There have been instances of interference by government officials in the region in certain judicial
matters, which trespasses on the independence of the judiciary. There must be a total separation of the powers, and until
this is clear, the independence of the Privy Council will have its place in the judicial arena of the region. I am for a strong
and independent judiciary and once it can be guaranteed that the CCJ will be independent, then I will give my full support
for its full implementation.
It is difficult to find justice in the court of the powerful if your opponent is kin to the powerful.
Well isn't it about time we move away from the Privy Council? We in the Caribbean have a habit of sitting down and waiting
for crises before we act. Was it even necessary for us to be told that we are wasting the time of the highest court in the
UK? The CCJ has been established for sometime now and is just part of the relic Caricom: talk and no action by our leaders.
I say to the UK go ahead and impose fees of use for the Caribbean countries and get them moving. As for Panday's suggestion
that we should stick to the Privy Council because is it causing a strain on them...I must really be missing something here
as I cannot understand his logic or argument.
There is an attachment disorder had by the intellectuals, especially in the legal community - a state of mind that does not
believe in our nations' ability to cultivate an independent judiciary and assert ourselves.
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