The Port of Spain-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says there has been a significant increase in the number of appellate judgments delivered by it during the first half of this year.
The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, but while most Caribbean countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the court, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize have signed on to its appellate jurisdiction.
The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom).
In a statement, the CCJ said that as several Caricom states contemplate having the CCJ replace the British Privy Council as the final court of appeal, there continues to be marked improvement in the number of judgments delivered and overall efficiency of the court.
“For the first half of this year alone there has been a 67 per cent increase in the number of appellate judgments delivered when compared to the same period in 2013,” the CCJ said, adding that “also significant, is the timeliness in which the court delivers its judgments”.
“It is the court’s official policy to issue judgments no later than six months after the close of the case and normally within three.”
It said that among the more notable judgments for this year was one in which the CCJ held that a Belizean doctor was negligent in delivering a baby via Caesarean section.
It said: “This negligence was seen to have caused the child to suffer from a lack of oxygen which led to her development of cerebral palsy.
“In another matter, the court upheld the conviction of Paul Lashley and John Campayne for breaking and entering and rejected the argument that they were only convicted because their attorney was incompetent.”
The CCJ said that, of the matters decided by the court for 2014, the majority originated from Guyana. It said Guyana and Barbados have both used the CCJ as their final court of appeal since it opened its doors in 2005, while Belize signed on later in 2010.
These three are currently the only states to send their appeals to the CCJ. However, efforts are now being made by Grenada, Dominica and St Lucia to adopt the CCJ as their final court of appeal.
Grenada, which is obliged to hold a referendum, is working towards holding one to decide on the matter while Dominica and St Lucia merely require an act of parliament to amend the constitution. —CMC