Saint Lucia’s Governor General H.E. Dame Pearlette Louisy was present at the special sitting also attended by judges, masters, magistrates and other members of the legal fraternity.
Head of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Her Ladyship, Hon. Dame Janice Pereira, said the achievement of 50 years as a regional court is a signature milestone as the Court has grown into a large judiciary supported by a distinct administrative arm.
“The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is a unique institution with a peculiar history and structure,” she said. “It is a regional organization within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and alongside organizations such as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), it exists as a shining example of the possibility of regional integration. It is a true regional structure, dispensing justice across its nine member states and territories comprising the OECS.”
While the regional Court still grapples with challenges such as heavy case backlogs, court delays, and limited financial and human resources, it has recorded some noteworthy successes as well.
“In 1967, the Court was fully iterant in nature. Not only would the Court of Appeal move between the states and colonies to hear appellate matters as it still does today, but so too did the High Court judges. They travelled to three or four different islands for the purpose of conducting criminal and civil hearings.
“At the appellate level, there was the Chief Justice and two Justices of Appeal; and at the High Court level, just about five judges. Today, the appellate level comprises in addition to the Chief Justice, five Justices of Appeal and growing, with a compliment of 23 judges and four Masters at the High Court level. Now, most of the Court’s member states and territories have two resident judges.”
The Chief Justice said changes have also been made to the court structure in order to offer more efficient services.
Saint Lucia currently has seven resident judges—four in the criminal division, two in the civil division and one in the commercial division.
The ECSC was inaugurated on Feb. 27, 1967, with Saint Lucia native, Sir Allen Montgomery Lewis as the first Chief Justice.
The ECSC is headquartered in Saint Lucia.