A Critique of the Caribbean Court of Justice

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Victor Jordan


The true power of any court lies in the confidence that the prospective users have in the fairness of its decisions. The people in the region should structure an international court, such as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that hopes to be the arbiter of a wide range of disputes in the Caribbean regions, in a way that will elicit confidence. In addition to resolving disputes surrounding the application and interpretation of the CARICOM treaty between member nations, a CCJ that is perceived as fair will have the potential to resolve other disputes, including that between Guyana and Surname or even Guyana and Venezuela. The current structure of the CCJ suggests that the designers lacked the foresight to see that Haiti and Suriname would become full members of CARICOM and also foresee the possibility that in the distant future Venezuela may also become a member of CARICOM. As these events come to pass, the CCJ as it is currently structured will be shown to be obsolete. As currently structured, the court is designed for a purely Anglophone CARICOM, making provisions for all the peculiarities of the Anglophone region. Fundamentally, the CCJ is incongruous with the legal systems of Suriname and Haiti. Also, because of the way that judges are selected, there is not enough randomness in the selection of judges, which is important to give the appearance of fairness. All these shortcomings require a quick restructuring of the court in time for 2005, the date of the commencement of the FTAA. Given the record of success of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), it is not unreasonable to use this court as a standard when critiquing the CCJ. In fact, the use of the ECJ as a standard could serve as a useful guide to the restructuring of the CCJ.

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