CCJ welcomes Dominica to appellate jurisdiction

From left, President of the CCJ Sir Denis Byron, Prime Minister of Dominica Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Constitutional Law expert and Feature Speaker Dr. Francis Alexis
From left, President of the CCJ Sir Denis Byron, Prime Minister of Dominica Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Constitutional Law expert and Feature Speaker Dr. Francis Alexis

On behalf of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), The Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron, President of the CCJ, welcomed the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Court’s Appellate Jurisdiction at the official ceremony to celebrate the move by the Eastern Caribbean state.

The Court President, Judges and the Registrar travelled to Dominica to attend the event, which was hosted at the State House Conference Centre earlier this morning, 6 March 2015.

The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Charles A Savarin, President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, Her Worship the Honourable Mme. Justice Janice Pereira, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Francis Alexis, Head of the Constitution Reform Committee of Grenada, among others.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
The CCJ was inaugurated on 16 April, 2005 in Trinidad and Tobago where it is headquartered. Its central role is providing legal certainty to the operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). It is structured to have two jurisdictions – an original and an appellate. In its original jurisdiction it ensures uniform interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, thereby underpinning and advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. As the final court of appeal for Member States of the Caribbean Community it fosters the development of an indigenous Caribbean jurisprudence

During his remarks, the Court President highlighted a quote from illustrious Dominican jurist, the Right Honourable Telford Georges, who regarded it as: “a compromise of sovereignty” for Caribbean nations to remain wedded “to a court which is part of the former colonial hierarchy”.

…In this context I extend my congratulations to the people of Dominica; to the Hon Roosevelt Skerrit Prime Minister, and to the entire government and establishment on this definitive step completing the circle of independence.”

The Court President described the CCJ as an accessible final court.

The CCJ offers to increased access to justice for the people of the Caribbean. This is very evident in the countries in which the CCJ is already the final court. Unlike the Privy Council, ordinary folk have been bringing their cases before the CCJ. It is not only governments and big business who are litigants before our court. We have a much less expensive and simpler procedure for lodging an appeal. Many more cases from Barbados, Guyana and Belize come to the CCJ and we can proudly assure you
that the court is accessible to anyone who has a legitimate dispute worthy of adjudication.”

Dominica is the fourth country to accede to the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction, which is currently also accessed by Barbados, Guyana and Belize. Prior to the ceremony, on Thursday 6 March, 2015, the President, Judges and Registrar conducted training sessions for local court staff and the Dominica Bar Association. The training session was geared at sensitization on the procedural rules and techniques for accessing the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction. These sessions were well attended and facilitated good discourse between the Bar and the Court. (CCJ Press Release)