The CCJ in Judicial Institution Building

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 CCJ in Judicial Institution Building
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Chapter TWO
The CCJ in Judicial Institution Building
By any rigorous, dispassionate standard of assessment applicable
to regional or international judicial institutions today, it would
be difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Caribbean Court of
Justice is a unique international judicial institution in terms of its
jurisdiction, the institutional arrangements devised for the
appointment, removal and disciplining of its judges and the
mechanism agreed for the financing of its operations. At the
time of this writing, no other regional judicial institution in the
world can lay a claim to being vested with an appellate
jurisdiction in respect of municipal law matters and an original
jurisdiction in respect of international law issues arising in relation
to the interpretation and application of a treaty. The uniqueness
of the Caribbean Court of Justice as a regional judicial institution
would be further enhanced if, as is the case with the Supreme
Court of Canada, it is vested with jurisdiction to determine
appeals from the Member States of the Community with civil
law systems, for example, Haiti and Suriname. Indeed, the
Caribbean Court of Justice is the only regional judicial institution
of its kind in the world whose judges will not be appointed,
directly or indirectly, by the political directorate of the States
participating in the regime. Cases in point are the International
Court of Justice (ICJ), the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the
Court of First Instance of the European Union (CFI), the Andean
The Caribbean Court of Justice
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Court of Justice (ACJ), the Central American Court of Justice
(CACJ), the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Area
(CJEFTA) and the Court of Justice of the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) (CJC). Financially, too,
the CCJ is likely to be only regional judicial institution in the
world which will be financially independent of the executive and,
by compelling inference, also administratively independent of the
central executives of participating Member States.1
In a very real sense, the unique features of the CCJ are the
product of peculiar historical conditions characterised by deep-
seated suspicions of participating governments, suspicions born
of unfortunate incidents involving the indiscreet employment of
executive power,2 and widespread regional skepticism about the
willingness and readiness of regional governments to contribute
to the budget of the Court on a reliable, sustainable basis in the
light of past experience. Given the historical antecedents of the
initiative to establish a regional court of last resort, especially
those of the last 40 years, public acceptance of the establishment
of a regional court of last resort has to be achieved by dint of
hard work and credible, bankable assurances that commitments
made by Governments in this regard would be respected and
complied with. In the premises, the regional political directorate
were persuaded to maintain a hands-off approach in the
appointment of judges of the Court and to approve arrangements
for funding of the Court well outside the political control and
influence of regional decision-makers.
From the time that a firm, definitive decision was taken by
the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean
Community to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice at their
Eighteenth Meeting in Castries, Saint Lucia, the regional
Attorneys General adopted an inclusive approach to the
elaboration of the CCJ’s constituent instrument and instructed
the CARICOM Secretariat to circulate a draft Agreement to the
presidents of Bar Associations in the Region for their consideration
and reaction. The response was as masterly in its inactivity as it
was resoundingly resonant in its protracted quiescence, and the

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