JIS News

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Michael de la Bastide has said that the CCJ was the institutional centrepiece of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and was therefore crucial to the success and survival of the free trade area.
Defining the primary function of the CCJ, he said that, “the original jurisdiction of the Court, broadly speaking, is to determine disputes between contracting parties and CARICOM, coming out of the interpretation and application of the Treaty of Chaguaramas”.
Justice de la Bastide was addressing members of the Jamaican business sector at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s (JCC) briefing room session, held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on October 19.
“The Treaty can be interpreted differently and these different approaches can produce different results. It would be a recipe for disaster if the national Courts of each contracting party (CARICOM Member State) were to put different interpretations on the same provisions. This is why there needs to be a single authoritative voice in so far as the interpretation and application is concerned,” Justice de la Bastide explained.
“If there was no CCJ, the CSME will loose all credibility and fall apart,” he noted.The CCJ President further explained the other two main functions, which are to enforce the rights and corresponding obligations that are given and imposed by the Treaty and to resolve disputes that will arise.
“Even if there is no appellate function of the Court, the CCJ will still be needed. In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ’s orders and judgements will be enforceable in the same way national Courts’ judgements are enforceable,” he said.
Justice de la Bastide gave his view of Jamaica and other signatories that made similar decisions to continue using the United Kingdom’s Privy Council as the final Court of Appeal.
“There has been a lot of controversy over the appellate role of the Court and whether or not it should be adopted. All I will say is that it seems a pity if having set up the Court and paid for it, the participating countries do not utilize it fully. So far as the appellate function is concerned, each country must make up its own mind,” he said.
The former Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago who, in July 2004, became a member of the Privy Council, noted that Barbados and Guyana were the only two countries that have given the CCJ appellate jurisdiction.
Speaking with JIS News following his presentation, Justice de la Bastide said he hoped that the CCJ would be accepted as the final court of appeal, “but I have to respect the rights of Jamaica to make its own decisions”.
He argued that the CCJ was sufficiently equipped as the region’s international tribunal and encouraged the business sector to utilize this machinery.
“The CCJ has great potential to make a powerful contribution towards the success and advancement of these integration aspirations. Whether or not the CCJ’s potential is realized depends on the extent to which it is used,” the President emphasized.