LETTER OF THE DAY - Privy Council and EPA

Published: Thursday | October 8, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

Please publish this as an open letter to the prime minister.

I am deeply saddened though amused to watch and follow the news articles concerning the announcements of the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.

I am saddened because Jamaica has taken her time in accepting the Caribbean Court of Justice as her final court. Amused because the Privy Council's approach is one which was expected, at least by me.

In recent discussions with persons from the Caribbean region about the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), I raised the issue of Jamaica having possible standing and or getting advisory opinion in/from the European Court of Justice.

I mentioned that there was a loophole by way of Article 234 of the European Union (EU) Treaty, which allows for any court or state body which is charged with the making of judicial and legally binding decisions within the jurisdiction of the EU, to make reference on matters and principles of law in the areas of competence of the EU.

Even though the EPA is governed by international law and states relations, from what I gathered, Jamaica and thus, CARIFORUM, felt that it had no choice but to enter into an agreement with the impending ratification thereof.

If this was the case, Jamaica, along with the political backing of CARICOM, whose court of last resort is the Privy Council, could have utilised the service of the Privy Council by asking it to make a reference under Art 234 of the EC Treaty to the European Court of Justice on legal issues of human rights and equity. There are also the matters of right to self-determination and sovereignty of CARICOM countries, which are about to/or being breached because the EPA is in contravention of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Constitutional decision

On the one hand, it is understandable that Jamaica's court of last resort should not be the Privy Council but the Caribbean Court of Justice. On the other hand, I am curious to know whether the Privy Council will be encouraging other Caribbean Commonwealth countries whose court of last resort is the Privy Council and are signatures to EPA.

I, therefore, encourage the Government of Jamaica that before it take any further constitutional decision on the Caribbean Court Justice to research the possibility of standing before the European Court of Justice via the Privy Council. This is for the mere fact that the Caribbean Court of Justice as a sui generis entity has been excluded from dealing with any future disputes under the EPA between the European Community and CARICOM/CARIFORUM.

I am, etc.,



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