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We should take charge of our legal process
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Michael de la Bastide says T&T would “no longer be beholden to a foreign government” if it becomes a member of the Appelate Jurisdiction of the CCJ. He admitted a relatively small percentage of cases reached the Privy Council, London, England. He made these comments during a press conference at CCJ Headquarters’, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. De La Bastide has served for seven years. He said: “There is a heavy responsibility which goes with it. We have been to beholden to a foreign government to provide us with a service which we ought to be providing for ourselves. This should be a matter of pride. We should assume full responsibility.
“We should assume full responsibility for our legal process and the most important rung in that legal process is the final one,” he added. He also lamented it would a “catastrophe if we lost the CCJ.” He also acknowledged decisions are made that affect people in the human rights. He also said the CCJ would be practical in terms of “convenience and a great saving of expense for citizens.” “They would be able to access the final court in Port-of-Spain rather than in London. That is a fact which would contribute to and facilitate access to justice,” he said.
He also said another disadvantage was having a court close to home rather than “a distant 4000 or 5000 miles away.” Reverting to the 1830s and a recent statement by Lord Hoffman, he said the Privy Council judges “acknowledged that they were under deciding cases from a country with which they had no familiarity whatever.” (ML)
About the CCJ
The Caribbean Court of Justice is the regional judicial tribunal established on February 14, 2001.
The Agreement was signed by Caricom and member states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and T&T.
CCJ is designed to be both an appellate and an original jurisdiction.
The CCJ considers and determines appeals in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts within the jurisdictions of Caricom member states which are parties to the agreement. In the appelate jurisdiction, the CCJ is the highest municipal court in the region.
It is the only Court with jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The CCJ was inaugurated on April 16, 2005.
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