Appellate Jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice

AuthorDuke Pollard
ProfessionDirector of the CARICOM Legislative Drafting Facility and one of the principal consultants on all development aspects of the Caribbean Court of Justice on which he now sits as a Judge
The Caribbean Court of Justice
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Chapter ThREE
Appellate Jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice
The Caribbean Court of Justice is a unique model of a
multinational court enjoying both an original jurisdiction as an
international tribunal and an appellate jurisdiction in respect of
municipal law issues arising in the jurisdictions of Member States
of the Caribbean Community and heard on appeal from national
appellate courts. Like many other Commonwealth countries, the
Member States of the Caribbean Community have determined
to terminate the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council as being inconsistent with their status as sovereign states
and to replace that body with a regional court of last resort.
Such a court, it is believed in official circles, would not only
complete the circle of independence which was being drawn as
early as 1962, but would also constitute the apotheosis of judicial
institutional arrangements contemplated as long ago as 1970
when the Council of Legal Education was established to promote
the development of an indigenous jurisprudence. In this context,
a faculty of law has been established at the University of the
West Indies campus at Cave Hill, Barbados, and the Council of
Legal Education has law schools at Mona (Jamaica), St. Augustine
(Trinidad and Tobago) and Nassau (The Bahamas). The
establishment of another law school at the University of Guyana
is under active consideration. Serious consideration is, therefore,
Appellate Jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice
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being given to accommodate the growing regional demand for
trained lawyers and to augment the export of regional
professional services, an area in which the Region is perceived
to enjoy a comparative advantage.
Since the Caribbean Court of Justice is a multinational court,
its jurisdiction is set out in a treaty, the Agreement Establishing
the Caribbean Court of Justice, which must be eventually enacted
into law by the Parliaments of Member States subscribing to the
common law system to give it the force of law in their respective
jurisdictions. The situation is different in Suriname and Haiti which
subscribe to the monist doctrine of international law. For the
purpose of accommodating the common law jurisdictions, the
CARICOM Secretariat has elaborated a model Draft Enabling
Bill to implement the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court
of Justice discussed below. The Agreement provides for the
appellate jurisdiction of the Court as set out in Article XXV which
reads as follows:
1. In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the Court is a
superior Court of Record with such jurisdiction and powers as
are conferred on it by this Agreement or by the Constitution or
any other law of a Contracting Party.
2. Appeals shall lie to the Court from decisions of the Court of
Appeal of a Contracting Party as of right in the following cases:
(a) final decisions in civil proceedings when the matter in
dispute or appeal to the Court is of the value of not less
than twenty-five thousand dollars Eastern Caribbean
currency (EC$25,000) or where the appeal involves directly
or indirectly a claim or a question respecting property or a
right of the aforesaid value;
(b) final decisions in proceedings for dissolution or nullity of
(c) final decisions in any civil or other proceedings which
involve a question as to the interpretation of the Constitution
of the Contracting Party;
(d) final decisions given in the exercise of the jurisdiction
conferred upon a superior court of a Contracting Party
relating to redress for contravention of the provisions of
the Constitution of a Contracting Party for the protection
of fundamental rights;

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