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Caribbean Court of Justice - Description [2004] PICTRes 16 (2 May 2004)

Caribbean Court of Justice

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a nascent regional judicial body. After the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice of February 14, 2001, it entered into force on July 23, 2002 (when Guyana joined Saint Lucia and Barbados in depositing its instrument of ratification).

The CCJ has a hybrid nature that sets it apart from all other courts. Indeed, like the ECJ, COMESA Court, TJAC, and even the ICJ, the CCJ is an international tribunal applying rules of international law in respect of the interpretation and application of the applicable treaties. Like judicial bodies of regional organizations, its role is to preserve the community (i.e., the Caricom) legal order (i.e., the Treaty of Chaguaramas and its protocols). However, at the same time, and the CCJ will hear appeals in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts within the jurisdictions of member States of the Caricom and which are parties to the Agreement establishing the CCJ. For those Commonwealth States that ratify the Agreement Establishing the CCJ, the CCJ will replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the UK (together with the House of Lords). It is also the highest court of appeal for several independent countries that were formerly part of the British Empire, the UK overseas territories, and the British crown dependencies. The move away from the Privy Council was a long brewed one. It started in 1970 when the Jamaican delegation at the Sixth Heads of Government Conference, which convened in Jamaica, proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal in substitution for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The process, however, accelerated towards the beginning of the 1990s when regional governments and courts and the Privy Council came at loggerheads over the issue of death penalty (with the former strongly in favor, and the latter trying to curb its resort). In other words, the CCJ is both a municipal court of last resort and an international court with compulsory and exclusive jurisdiction in respect of the regional organization's laws. This sets it apart from all other judicial bodies.

PICT Data obtained from the Project on International Courts and Tribunals (PICT)

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