Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat aimed at improving access and delivery of justice in the Caribbean region. The Agreement, signed by CCJ President, the Honourable Mr Justice Adrian Saunders on behalf of the Court earlier this month, formalizes the partnership between the two regional institutions to execute several justice and legal sector projects which are being funded by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
The Secretariat will provide procurement support to the CCJ in the execution of several projects which form part of a larger project which also comprises work to benefit the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT) and the Council of Legal Education (CLE). The implementation of these projects is expected to have a transformative effect on justice delivery in the region.
Some of the more specific outcomes include a region-wide public education campaign to raise awareness of the Court’s Original Jurisdiction (OJ) which plays a critical role in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and protects the freedom of movement of people, goods, services, capital, labour, skills and establishment guaranteed under the CSME. In addition, the CCJ will also sensitise judicial officers and attorneys on the Court’s referral process so that national judiciaries are aware of their obligation to send issues concerning the rights under the CSME to the CCJ for judgment, when necessary. It is anticipated that increased knowledge of provisions under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and avenues for redress will empower regional citizens to capitalise on their rights provided by the Treaty. The grant will also be used to upgrade the information and communication technology infrastructure in the CCJ courtroom to enhance the court user experience for litigants and attorneys.
CCAT, an impartial and independent judicial body responsible for hearing and delivering judgments on employment disputes from CARICOM Institutions will also benefit from funds received under this grant. The Tribunal is a long-awaited development for employees of these organisations, as CARICOM institutions enjoy immunity from lawsuits brought in national courts and so, for many years employees did not have an avenue to challenge the legality of employment decisions.
Through the revision of the legal education curriculum for the regional law schools under the CLE’s management, law students will also indirectly benefit from this EDF grant. It is critical for the curriculum to be up to date to meet the emerging legal needs and trends within the Caribbean since most practising attorneys in the region are matriculated by these law schools.
It is anticipated that this collaboration will further strengthen the relationship between and among the various CARICOM institutions and the European Union. The CCJ welcomes this partnership and looks forward to the mutually rewarding benefits.