St. Lucia, has officially become the fifth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to have full membership with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
CCJ president Justice Adrian Saunders welcomed St Lucia as a full member of the regional court, which was founded in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final appellate court.
In a statement, Justice Saunders stated that the CCJ, which has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has taken note of the Governor General’s assent to the Constitution of St Lucia (Amendment) Act.
As a result, he added, St Lucia has “now officially acceded to the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction,” and he expressed his “heartfelt congratulations to the people of St Lucia on this momentous occasion.”
St Lucia joins Barbados, Dominica, Belize, and Guyana as the fifth CARICOM country to become a full member of the CCJ, which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs the 15-member regional integration grouping.
While the majority of CARICOM countries have signed the CCJ’s original jurisdiction, Trinidad and Tobago, where the CCJ is situated, is one of the regional countries that is not a full member of the court.
According to Justice Saunders, statistics compiled by the court in 2022 show that “the volume of cases being heard by that country’s final court annually has at least doubled, thereby contributing to the dynamism of the country’s jurisprudence and significantly expanding access to justice for its citizenry.”
“We have no doubt that St Lucia, too, will have a similar experience,” he continued.
Saunders further stated that the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice Pereira, and the president of the Saint Lucia Bar Association, Diana Thomas Hunte, have been notified in writing of the CCJ’s readiness to assist St Lucian court officials, litigants, and counsel alike in using the CCJ’s electronic filing and case management portals to facilitate access to the court.
“The Caribbean Court of Justice looks forward to serving the people of St Lucia as we do all the states and people of the Caribbean Community, particularly those of Guyana, Barbados, Belize, and the Commonwealth of Dominica, whose final appeals we hear,” Justice Saunders said, adding that the CCJ is looking forward to more Caricom states accessing the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction in the future.