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OECS Bar president urges member countries to embrace CCJ

By LK Hewlett West Indies News Network From Caribbean News Now

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — Thaddeus Antoine, president of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association, has lent the organization’s voice to the calls for member countries to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (the CCJ) as their final court of appeal.

“We call on the governments of the region who are considering the move the Caribbean Court of Justice to do so in a bloc so as not to have different approaches by the courts of legal issues in our region. I submit that all our jurisdictions have not fully embraced the CCJ simply because of a lack of trust and confidence in our own people. Our very own OECS Court of Appeal has turned out many a judgment that has been upheld by the Privy Council, likewise, the CCJ continues to make strides and contributes to a solid Caribbean jurisprudence.

I continue to be of the opinion that a change of narrative is needed for the discussions, it can’t firmly be about delinking from the Privy Council to rid ourselves of our colonial past, it should be about access to justice, it should be the new judicial and political narrative for delinking from the Privy Council in favour of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

“While our Court of Appeal is doing an excellent job of providing access to justice for people of the region, we seem to be shortchanging our people in our region when litigants are simply not able to appear in front of the Court of Appeal to the Privy Council as the cost is prohibitive to the majority of our litigants. Then there leaves little or no opportunity for a judgment of our Court of Appeal to be reviewed by a higher court of the litigant is dissatisfied, this essentially makes our court of appeal our de facto final appeal court.

This I submit is not good for justice, this is not good for the development of our jurisprudence; this is simply not good for access to justice. Our people of our region are essentially being denied a right to get a second opinion in their matters. We at the OECS bar are willing, ready and able to help to educate the populace to bring this injustice to an end,” he said.

Antoine also used the occasion of Tuesday’s opening of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s 2018 law year in St Kitts to make a pitch for harmonized legislation throughout the region.

“The OECS Bar calls on the governments to truly agree on and put in place harmonized legislation in the sub-region. The actions of four respective governments are totally within their rights of individually amending harmonized legislation for their region is going against the very reason that it was being harmonized. That is to ensure that we have common legislation in the region in a common market so as to have common legal interpretations and applicability and to have common court judgments,” he said.

IMAGE: Thaddeus Antoine, President of the OECS Bar Association

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