Ordinary Antiguans and Barbudans will be assured an affordable path to justice under the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), according to President of the court Sir Dennis Byron. Sir Dennis was making the case for a vote in favour of the CCJ in an upcoming referendum.
“The Privy Council has not really impacted the lives of ordinary people very much here in Antigua, because the average person has not been able to afford to go before the court,” Sir Dennis said.
The CCJ President said the court has heard 160 cases in the past 10 years from Barbados, Belize and Guyana compared to around the 10 he estimated the Privy Council has heard from Antigua & Barbuda in the same period.
“The average citizen has found an opportunity to come before the (CCJ) court…because there are special provisions within the rules to facilitate appeals by poor persons,” Sir Dennis said.
Currently, the nation has the British based Privy Council as its final court of appeal and not the Trinidad based CCJ.
Critics of the CCJ fear it will be vulnerable to influence and say in the past, justice was not done until a case reached the Privy Council, but Sir Dennis dismissed those concerns.
“People went to the Privy Council because there was not a CCJ, and we think if the CCJ was in existence, justice would also have flowed from us,” Sir Dennis said.
The CCJ was signed into being by Caricom member states in 2001 and has been in operation since April 2005.