Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Letter of the Day: Visits by CCJ, Privy Council rest mainly on cost

Published:Monday | October 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Oh, for less pointscoring and more honesty in this Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) debate.

Much is being made of a 2010 letter purportedly advising that the British Privy Council (PC) is willing to meet here in Jamaica to hear appeal cases referred to them. This is supposed to be a major broadside against the claim of the governing party that the CCJ is more accessible than the PC. But surely, accessibility cannot be measured only in terms of physical distance! Accessibility is obviously far more decisively a question of cost.

I can understand why the PC would have no difficulty meeting in Jamaica if required so to do. In my relatively long and fairly well-travelled life, I have not met a foreigner who did not want to visit Jamaica - so much the more, I believe, if one could arrange to have one?s travel cost met by another.

The real issue here is: How does the cost of bringing the PC to Jamaica compare with the cost of the CCJ meeting here or elsewhere in CARICOM?

I suspect the cost of stipend, hotel accommodation and associated remuneration for three or four PC judges, with a similar number of court administrators/assistants meeting in Jamaica, would far exceed even what it now costs to hold court in the United Kingdom (UK). This could be well beyond the means of even the few Jamaican litigants who are currently able to have their appeals heard in the UK and may explain why the itinerant option has never been pursued here.

In terms of accessibility then, the elusive 2010 PC letter will prove nothing except that for the average Jamaican, the cost of savouring a locally flavoured PC hearing is not something that could ever be contemplated by the faint-hearted.

The extent to which some of us are willing to go to prove to the world that we were not yet quite ready for independence from the 'motherland' is not only instructive but enormously embarrassing. And then we complain when we are not treated with the respect accorded self-respecting peoples.



Kingston 20