Above: the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port of Spain
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Since it gained independence in 1962, Jamaica’s final court of appeal has been the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.
That could change, though, when the country’s House of Representatives votes on bills that would make the Caribbean Court of Justice the country’s highest appellate court.
Jamaica’s House will vote on April 28 on the proposed CCJ bills. Because the Privy Council is an “entrenched” provision in the country’s constitution, any vote would need a two-third majority to change it.
“Under our system of government, Bills that are brought to Parliament are required to be supported unless there is some international convention or agreement that will be breached by the passage of the Bill,” said Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who has advocated for a move to the CCJ since her People’s National Party won the country’s 2012 general elections.
The three bills include one to amend the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, one to amend the Constitution and another to make provisions for the implementation of the CCJ as a court of both original jurisdiction for CARICOM issues and as a final court of appeal.
Barbados, Belize and Guyana have already acceded to the CCJ as their final court of appeal; Trinidad has done so for criminal appeals, while Dominica has announced plans to switch to the CCJ in recent months.