News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Weds. July 13, 2011: A special sitting of the Port-of-Spain-based Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ), is being conveyed on Friday to say farewell to its first President.
Justice Michael De La Bastide is going into retirement. De La Bastide was appointed President of the Court when the Court was established on April 16, 2005 and will be replaced by Sir Denis Byron, former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Court.
Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean States still retain the Privy Council as the final court. Surprisingly, the Chief Justices of Trinidad and Tobago (Ivor Archie), the Eastern Caribbean (Hugh Rawlins) have been invited to sit with the CCJ judges and the Heads of Judiciary of Guyana, Barbados and Belize, the three countries which accepted the CCJ as the final court, have not been asked to join their CCJ brothers and sister.
The CCJ Public and Communications Officer claims that Justice Archie will represent the CCJ Trust Fund as he presently serves on the Board of Trustees, and Chief Justice Rawlins of the OECS is presently serving on the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission.
Several distinguished legal officials in the region have been invited to speak Friday, and they include the acting Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago Prakash Ramadar, the Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Lloyd Barnett, the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, and Chairman of the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA), Wilfred Abrahams.
The acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Lolita Applewhaite, is also listed to speak along with Anne Morris-Alleyne, Court Executive Administrator and Registrar Paula Pierre. Senior Judge of the CCJ, Rolston Nelson will preside.
The new President, Sir Denis, is expected to assume duties in September.
It is regrettable that although the CCJ was established more than six years ago only three jurisdictions, Guyana, Barbados and Belize, have abolished appeals to the Privy Council and accepted the CCJ as the final court.
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago which were in the forefront in the establishment of the regional Court more than 20 years ago are yet to join the Appellate Division of the CCJ.
The OECS states are seriously considering going on board, and there are discussions that all the states should do so at the same time.