A Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judge has cautioned the country about a Privy Council proposal to operate as an itinerant court.
Justice David Hayton said accepting such a proposal, which would be at the expense of the state, might be dangerous and could potentially be considered political interference.
Lord David Neuberger of the Privy Council said last month that the court was willing to offer services to the region via video links and to travel to hear cases from Commonwealth countries.
However, Justice Hayton warned that the aggrieved party could also be left with a hefty bill if he loses the case, since that person usually has to pay costs for both sides.
“When the Privy Council goes to a country like it did the Bahamas, it’s where they’ve got about three cases on the books, because they’re not going to the Bahamas for one or two days…then we’d be happy to go if the government agrees to pay,” he said.
In contrast, he said the CCJ is not only an itinerant court, but also has other systems in place to ensure cases are dealt with speedily and at affordable rates.
Justice Hayton also gave the thumbs down to a suggestion for a collaborative approach between the London-based court and the CCJ, saying the suggestion by Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland would not be feasible or wise.
“My own view is you can’t have the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice operating together, basically because the Caribbean Court of Justice has exclusive sole jurisdiction over interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the written constitution. The Privy Council can’t get involved in that in any way,” he said.
The CCJ judge was speaking on the sidelines of a discussion hosted by the Antigua & Barbuda Chamber of Commerce & Industry as part of an ongoing public education campaign ahead of a referendum on the country joining the Trinidad-based court.