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  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, has reiterated that there is no need for a referendum on whether Jamaica should adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal.
  • Senator Nicholson said it has long been established and acknowledged that a referendum is, in essence, a general election, with a “political campaign being the axis on which it spins.”
  • He further noted that neither in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) nor the country’s constitutional arrangements is there is any requirement other than that of a two-thirds majority vote to be obtained up front in each House of Parliament for Jamaica to subscribe fully to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, has reiterated that there is no need for a referendum on whether Jamaica should adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal.

Responding to comments made in one of the daily newspapers on December 21, 2014, by former Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Seaga, who has advocated for a referendum to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court in Jamaica, Senator Nicholson said it has long been established and acknowledged that a referendum is, in essence, a general election, with a “political campaign being the axis on which it spins.”

“No country that has inherited the Westminster approach to jurisprudence has wished that matters relating to its judicial system be exposed to the political hustings, for the harm that is likely to be done to its judiciary,” he emphasised.

He further noted that neither in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) nor the country’s constitutional arrangements is there is any requirement other than that of a two-thirds majority vote to be obtained up front in each House of Parliament for Jamaica to subscribe fully to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

“Now, there is this insistence that a referendum be held immediately, in defiance even of the JCPC ruling, with a cost in the region of one billion scarce taxpayers’ dollars when that is not required by law or constitutionally provided for, and which is moreover, long acknowledged to be fraught with great danger to our judicial system,” Senator Nicholson said.

He also argued that access to the courts, at whatever level, is a fundamental right to which citizens are entitled.

“There is now the prohibitive cost to the vast majority of our people to exercise that right in the case of the JCPC. An itinerant CCJ will allow our citizens to enjoy rights that they have never been able to exercise under the present system,” Senator Nicholson said.

The House of Representatives is to vote on the Bills making the CCJ the final court of appeal for Jamaica on April 28. Debate on the Bills closed in the House on  January 20.

After the Bills have been debated in the Lower House, there is a time period of three months before a vote can be taken.

The three CCJ Bills are: ‘An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act’, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act to repeal provisions for appeals to the Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ; ‘An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica, to amend Section 110 of the Constitution to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica’s final court’; and ‘An Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ as both a court of original jurisdiction, to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and international treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction’.

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