The Observer, CCJ and foreign investors
For some time now, most recently in your leader of October 5, you have been making the quite remarkable, spurious, and baseless assertion that, should Jamaica accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) it would not succeed in attracting foreign investors that matter as they would not feel confident that, should it be warranted, they would get justice at the CCJ in the event of a dispute with local entities, private or public.
Sir, proceeding on the basis that foreign investment is a good thing and with the knowledge that of the numerous determinants of foreign investment — including resource endowment; market size; infrastructure quality; political, economic and financial stability; fiscal and other incentives; labour cost and quality — contract enforcement is but one, albeit an essential one, I have a few questions for you.
How has investor confidence been affected by the decision taken by the 40 plus countries to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) with their own final court? Have you, Sir, done a comparative analysis of the investment climates, including dispute settlement mechanisms, in member states and non-member states of the CCJ?
Why is it that Barbados and Guyana, both of which have acceded to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction, have in recent years been able to attract far more foreign investment than Jamaica — Barbados in per capita terms and Guyana in absolute terms? Did these investors not feel confident that justice would be served at the CCJ in the event that they had to take a dispute to it?
Why did Sandals Resort International (SRI), owners of the Jamaica Observer, put in major investments in Barbados, the largest for that country at the time, after Barbados had acceded to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ in 2005? Did the late Mr Butch Stewart feel confident at the time that justice would be served at the CCJ in the event he had to take a dispute to it?
And if so, does Mr Adam Stewart continue to retain that confidence? Given the rapid growth taking place in Guyana, does the confident, Caribbean-centred SRI have any plan to benefit from the ‘gold rush’ by making a major investment in that country?
As one of only two newspapers of record in Jamaica, the Observer has every right to oppose Jamaica’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ. It is a right which must be stoutly defended as must be that of those, including the other newspaper, who hold that access to justice for the people of Jamaica will be better served by replacing His Majesty’s JCPC with the CCJ as the nation’s final court.
In pursuing its right, the Observer — at one time a stout supporter of the CCJ — should be careful to not give the impression, having changed its mind, that it is now engaged in cant, humbug and sophistry. Investors seeking non-partisan, objective adjudication of their claims will certainly find it in the CCJ, if its judgments are anything to go by. In any event, there exists in all Caricom states, members and non-members of the CCJ, a variety of internationally recognised and functional commercial dispute mechanisms, including international arbitration.
The Observer, which prides itself in always being ahead, should go back to doing the right thing by supporting the people of Jamaica in their quest to gain the privilege of unimpeded access to justice.
Ambassador Audley Rodriques