Arrangements for lodging final appeals with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) instead of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) are currently in progress, as Saint Lucia endeavours to make justice more accessible to its citizens.
Appeals can now be lodged with the CCJ. Measures towards accession to the CCJ began 20 years ago under the administration of Dr Kenny D. Anthony and have been successfully completed by the Philip J. Pierre Administration, which was elected to government with a two-thirds majority in July 2021.
The bringing into force of the Constitution of Saint Lucia (Amendment) Act and the CCJ Agreement Act effectively meant that appeals from our Court of Appeal will be now lodged with the CCJ, as opposed to the JCPC.
As such, the commencement of the CCJ Agreement Act has completed the accession process whereby Saint Lucia has become the fifth CARICOM Member State to accede to the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction.
A decisive stage in the process came on 17th July, 2023, when the Government of the UK conferred “the agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom to the proposed termination of the jurisdiction of the JCPC” as Saint Lucia’s highest appellate court.
Agreement was communicated in a letter, signed by the Right Honourable James Cleverly MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.
The agreement effectively sealed Saint Lucia’s accession to the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction.
Saint Lucia is already a full member of the CCJ’s Original Jurisdiction under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), which established the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in July 2001.
The RTC provided for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the Treaty by the judicial decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The agreement with the UK Government was one of the several measures the Government of Saint Lucia had to achieve in its quest to leave the JCPC and join the CCJ.
Other measures completed are:
- The approval by three-quarters of all members of the House of Assembly in passing the Constitution of Saint Lucia (Amendment) Bill, which amended the Saint Lucia Constitution by replacing the provisions that had allowed for appeals to Her Majesty in Council to provide for appeals to the CCJ. This was achieved on 28 February and 2 March, 2023, (in House of Assembly and the Senate respectively).
- The bringing into force of the Constitution of Saint Lucia (Amendment) Act (9 March 2023).
- Commencement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Agreement) Act (20 July 2023).
Recognizing that this is a seminal moment in the history of Saint Lucia, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Secretary in the UK Government, the Rt. Hon. James Cleverly, extended best wishes to Prime Minister, Hon. Philip J Pierre and the people of Saint Lucia, and expressed the hope that he would be afforded the opportunity, in the near future, to personally deliver his congratulatory message.
The constitutional and public communications campaigns in pursuance of Saint Lucia’s de-linking from the Privy Council and accession to the Appellate Jurisdiction to the CCJ was set in motion in March 2022 with the appointment of the CCJ (Accession) Committee, chaired by retired Justice, Sir Dennis Byron, a former president of the CCJ and, and also a retired Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
The Committee has conducted a focused series of public information events, including press briefings, community town hall meetings and dissemination of information via conventional and social media.
Saint Lucians now have the opportunity to access the CCJ as their final appellate court for criminal and civil cases.
SOURCE: CCJ (Accession) Committee