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President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Michael de la Bastide is optimistic that once the CARICOM (CSME) becomes operational in early 2006 there will be an inflow of cases to be tried under the Original Jurisdiction of the Court.
The CCJ Head said while not able to predict how heavy the inflow would be or the time of the onset, the Court stood ready to deal with cases whether in the original or appellate jurisdiction.
Mr. de la Bastide was speaking at a press briefing where he updated journalists on matters concerning the CCJ and the CSME at Jamaica House in Kingston yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 20).
“In the original jurisdiction we do not expect any cases until the CSME comes into force and that is to happen at the beginning of 2006. Once that agreement comes into force we anticipate that there will be a flow of cases into our original jurisdiction,” he said.
The CCJ operates in two jurisdictions. It its original jurisdiction, the Court serves to determine disputes that may arise under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which establishes the CSME and will have compulsory exclusive jurisdiction in relation to matters concerning the interpretation and application of the revised Treaty.
In its second jurisdiction it will act as a final Court of Appeal for CSME members who chose to adopt it as their final court. So far Barbados and Guyana are the only two countries which have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction of the court.
In the meantime he said the Court’s six judges are well advanced with the preparation of the rules of court since their appointment. Rules of court are required for both the original and the appellate jurisdiction. Mr. de la Bastide informed that the rules for the appellate jurisdiction have been finalized and published. He added that steps were being taken to finalize the rules for the original jurisdiction which should be published before year end.
“The Court is very much a reality and it would seem a pity if it was not utilized fully. But that is a decision which each individual member of CARICOM must take for themselves,” Mr. de la Bastide stated. He said the decision to have the Court as the final court of appeal would be the decision of the Jamaican Government and the people.
Mr. de la Bastide however pointed out that already an application for leave to appeal in an interesting case has been received from Barbados. The matter will be heard early next month. He informed that another appeal was also forthcoming from Barbados but said so far nothing had been received from Guyana.
The CCJ Head noted that the Court has been created by CARICOM members and exists in its original jurisdiction for all the countries that signed the agreement establishing the Court.
“We intend to make it a truly regional court,” he told journalists while explaining that the court would be an itinerant facility which is prepared to move to different islands and countries in the CARICOM group to hear matters.
Meanwhile Mr. de la Bastide said work is ongoing in preparing the Court to operate efficiently as a modern user friendly court which utilizes all the available modern technologies. The Court was officially inaugurated in Trinidad on April 16, 2005.