Between Community Law and Common Law: The Rise of the Caribbean Court of Justice at the Intersection of Regional Integration and Post-Colonial Legacies
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 10
32 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2014 Last revised: 9 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 8, 2016
This article provides a pioneering empirical analysis of the emergence and transformation of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The article analyses both the protracted process of negotiating a common court for the Caribbean and its subsequent institutionalization as the CCJ. The court eventually created in 2005 was uniquely vested with a double jurisdiction: original jurisdiction over Caribbean community law, notably the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) (2001), and appellate jurisdiction over other civil and criminal matters. We argue that this double competence is symptomatic of the complex socio-political context and transformation of which it is part. While the CCJ’s original jurisdiction over the RTC has been the background to a new more legalized process of Caribbean integration under the CARICOM, in its appellate function the Court is now gradually repatriating to the Caribbean the development and control over the common law from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (Privy Council/JCPC) in London which until recently remained the last court of appeals for civil and criminal cases from the Caribbean. Using unique data collected on the ground, in both our legal and sociological analysis of the development of the CCJ since 2005, we show how this combination of globalization and latter-day decolonization continued to have a fundamental impact on the Court and its authority in the region. We moreover demonstrate how the Court has changed from initially deploying a sort of Legal Diplomacy (Madsen 2011) to now increasingly seeking to legitimize its practices in providing justice to the Caribbean people. The latter has helped the CCJ expand its group of interlocutors significantly beyond the initially rather narrow set of insiders involved in litigation before the Court as well as expanded its authority.
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