Dominica is to write to the British government in January asking for permission to sever ties with the Privy Council.
This, as the island moves towards recognizing the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court.
“This month January 2013, God willing, we shall write formally to the British Government indicating to them our intention of severing ties with the Privy Council and seeking agreement on that,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on state-owned DBS Radio. “Certainly in 2013 Dominica will be moving very speedily to recognize the CCJ as our final court.”
The prime minister said he believes the CCJ is a ‘very serious’ and cheaper court. “It will make it much cheaper for the average citizen to get redress from the CCJ because going to the Privy Council can be expensive to many and the expense has been a detterent,” he noted.
He said Dominica has been paying for the operation of the CCJ through a loan taken by CARICOM from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
This is not the first time the island’s leaders have made known their opinions concerning the CCJ. During the throne speech to mark the beginning of the new parliamentary term in 2012, then president Nicholas Liverpool made an passionate plea for Dominica and the rest of the OECS to recognize the CCJ.
“It is my hope that this Honourable House will see its way clearly to complete the legislative work required and take the proper steps to ensure that the court functions…with respect to matters from Dominica,” he said.
He noted that the sub-region would be presented with a “very untimely state of affairs if all the independent countries of the OECS do not accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the court as a group”.
“We may hardly remind ourselves that this country is a part of one court system, a Supreme Court consisting of a Court of Appeal headquartered in St. Lucia, and High Court situated in all of the territories,” Liverpool argued. “It would be most undesirable therefore to have some states in this unified court system taking their appeals to the Privy Council while others accede to the jurisdiction of the CCJ.”
DNO’s efforts to contact the Dominica Bar Association for a comment on the prime minister’s announcement, have so far been unsuccessful.
The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council, and also serves as an international Tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.
While most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have joined the CCJ in its original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction.
The Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (JCPC) is the court of final appeal for UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and for those Commonwealth countries that have retained the appeal to the Queen in Council or, in the case of Republics, to the Judicial Committee.