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Gov’t tables three CCJ bills in House

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 27, 2012    

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THE Government tabled three Bills in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, aimed at replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica's final appellate court.

House Leader Phillip Paulwell, tabled the Bills in the absence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who is attending the Summer Olympics in London.

The Bills are:

* An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act to repeal provisions for appeals to Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ;

* An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica, which seeks to amend section 110 of the Constitution to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica's final court; and

* An Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ as both a court of original jurisdiction, to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and International treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction.

Following the December 2011 general election, the new People's National Party (PNP) Government stated its intention to have the CCJ serving in both the original and appellate jurisdictions for Jamaica, in time for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence in August.

The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) said it does not have an issue with the CCJ as the country's final court, but wants a referendum to let the public decide.

In February 2005, the Privy Council had declared CCJ-related companion Bills passed by the Jamaican Parliament in 2004 as unconstitutional. Those Bills should have established the CCJ as Jamaica's final court of appeal.

Only three Caricom countries have acceded to the CCJ as a final appellate court. Barbados and Guyana acceded in 2005, and Belize joined them in June 2010.

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