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  • The objective of Jamaica’s full participation in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is to ensure that justice is in the reach of all citizens, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has emphasised.
  • Mr. Golding, who opened the debate on the three CCJ Bills, in the Senate, on October 16, said the Bills, which were passed earlier in the House of Representatives, are all “about the Jamaican people.”
  • The Bills are the Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015; the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 2015, and the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015. They are seeking to delink Jamaica from the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council, and to become part of the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction.

The objective of Jamaica’s full participation in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is to ensure that justice is in the reach of all citizens, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has emphasised.

Mr. Golding, who opened the debate on the three CCJ Bills, in the Senate, on October 16, said the Bills, which were passed earlier in the House of Representatives, are all “about the Jamaican people.”

“The rights of our people are protected by access to justice, which means access to our courts. For centuries, the vast majority of our people have been denied to appeal their cases to Jamaica’s final court, because our final court is a colonial institution which sits in London,” Minister Golding told the Upper House.

The Bills are the Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015; the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 2015, and the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015. They are seeking to delink Jamaica from the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council, and to become part of the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction.

Senator Golding, in pointing out that the cost of accessing the Privy Council prevents most Jamaicans from appealing cases there, noted that while the death penalty was abolished in the UK, some 50 years ago, it remains a law in Jamaica, and while lawyers in the UK will argue death penalty cases involving Jamaicans for free, other appeals are above what the majority can afford.

The Minister also noted that wealthy individuals or corporations in Jamaica can afford the “enormous costs amounting to many tens of millions of dollars that are required to take an appeal to the Privy Council.”

“For the vast majority of Jamaicans, if they lose their appeal in the Jamaican Court of Appeal, that is the end of their recourse to the law for protection of their rights,” he added.

The Minister argued that as it stands with the Privy Council, even though persons might have the right to further appeal to the final court in London, many cannot, due to their limited resources.

“It is this denial of access to justice for the Jamaican people that is the most pressing imperative that compels the passing of the three Bills,” the Minister said.

He outlined that visa fees amount to £120.00, with payment for a flight to London costing over $150,000, with other costs to retain lawyers.

The Minister also noted that fees to file cases with the Privy Council range from $72,000 to $900,000, adding that these costs are clear messages that access to the Privy Council is not for ordinary Jamaicans.

“In stark contrast, accessibility to Caribbean citizens is a key object of the Caribbean Court of Justice. There is a filing fee of US$60 (J$7,200) for an appeal with the CCJ, regardless of the nature of the appeal, or the amount claimed, and there is no fee charged on filing submissions generally,” he told the Senate.

The Minister said the CCJ has invested in modern audiovisual technology, and its procedures encourage the use of ICT, so that matters before the court can often be dealt with, without requiring litigants or their lawyers to travel.

“Audiovisual facilities have already been set up at the Supreme Court in Kingston to allow matters before the CCJ to be argued from right here,” he noted.

The debate will continue in the Senate.