THE EDITOR, Sir:
I CONTINUE to be amazed by the continuous assertion by The Gleaner, and members of the local legal profession, that the Caribbean Court of Justice is an appropriate substitute for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as our final court of appeal. I can only suppose that our proximity to the United States of America (US) has induced most people to forget that there are two main versions of the English language, which assign somewhat different meanings to the same word. 'Court' is such a word.
In the US, 'court' means a court of law. In the British system of Constitutional Monarchy, which we are supposed to be practising, there are three kinds of 'courts' which give effect to the doctrine of the separation of powers which the US constitution is supposed to enshrine.
In our system, executive power is exercised by the governor general on behalf of the Queen, but he can only do so if he is advised (i.e., instructed) to do so by the appropriate authority, usually the prime minister.
His highest executive function is to set free someone sentenced to death, or any form of legal punishment, but he has to do so on the advice of our local branch of the Privy Council.
Legislative power is exercised by the governor general (GG) on behalf of the Queen, but he can only pass laws if he is instructed to do so by the High Court of our Parliament, which is, of course, composed of our elected representatives, and to the senators, who are chosen by our representatives, presumably for their sagacity, to see to our protection and welfare. Judicial power is also exercised by the Queen, who is required to exercise her power in accordance with the laws of Jamaica (not the laws of the United Kingdom).
Since the Queen is not necessarily a legal expert, the United Kingdom (UK) government employs the best legal brains it can possibly find to give the Royal Court the best possible advice as to how the Queen, (read GG), should give her judgment. The idea that this system infringes our independence is nonsense. If we don't like the rulings of Her Majesty in Council, then our remedy is to change our laws to suit ourselves.
Also, I believe that the chief justice of Jamaica probably has the authority to advise the GG to reject the advice of the (UK-based) Privy Council.
On the other hand, the Caribbean Court of Justice is a law court, and is, presumably, provided with the power to issue court orders which must be obeyed. Our political leaders had better be careful that they don't find themselves in the same situation as their counterparts in the UK who, having surrendered the UK's judicial independence to the European Court of Justice, now find themselves having to give voting rights to people in prison, and to legislate same-sex laws and other unpalatable legislation, in order to conform with the laws of secular Europe.