CHIEF Justice Ivor Archie declared it is a “continuing embarrassment” that TT has not made the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) its final appellate court, even though the court is headquarted in this country. Archie made this point when he addressed a special sitting of the court on Henry Street, Port of Spain to celebrate the appointment of Justice Adrian Saunders as its new president.
Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are the only Caricom countries to have replaced the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ. The court was established in February 2001 and began operations in April 2005.
Archie said he has spoken on several occasions about the CCJ replacing the Privy Council TT’s final appellate court. He said a fire must be lit in the hearts of Caribbean people to move in this direction. Archie opined Saunders could be the catalyst for that fire. Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Fitzgerald Hinds said he shared the same embarrassment about the CCJ. He reminded the gathering that the People’s National Movement (PNM) has long advocated the CCJ replace the Privy Council.
Hinds later told reporters, the PNM maintains this commitment. However he said legislation to implement the CCJ requires a special majority for passage in Parliament. Hinds said the Opposition United National Congress (UNC), given its track record, is unlikely to support that kind of legislation. He said the former UNC led -People’s Partnership coalition rejected an overture from the PNM on the CC, between 2010 and 2015.
Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine also expressed regret that many Caricom countries have kept the Privy Council as their final appellate court.