For the second consecutive year, Guyana has topped the list of countries filing cases in the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). This is according to the regional court’s annual report which revealed that the year 2018-2019 saw a 15 percent increase in the number of matters filed when compared to the previous year. The report said that 20 cases or 54 percent were filed for Guyana with the Trinidad-based court. This is in comparison with eleven cases or 30 percent from Barbados, four or 11 percent from Belize and two or five percent from Dominica.
In all, a total of 37 matters were filed between the four countries. Of the 37 matters, 25 represents Application for Special Leave, while the remainder, 12 accounted for Notices of Appeal. In the report it was highlighted that Applications for Special Leave represented a 92% increase over 2017-2018, while the number of Notices of Appeal filed in this year fell by approximately 37%.
For the judicial year, 2017 to 2018, Guyana filed 17 cases with the Trinidad-based CCJ. This is in comparison with two cases filed from Dominica, six from Belize and seven from Barbados. Of the 32 matters filed during this period by the four member countries, there were 19 Notices of Appeal and 13 applications for special leave.
It appears as though Guyana has the highest filings due to its population of 777,859, when compared to the populations of these other small countries Belize, 374,681; Barbados, 285,719 and Dominica 73,925.
In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ hears and determines appeals in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts within the jurisdictions of Member States of the Community which are parties to the Agreement establishing the court.
Among the judgments delivered in the court’s appellate jurisdiction the case out of Guyana: Christopher Ram Appellant v The Attorney General, The Leader of The Opposition, Joseph Harmon & Guyana Elections Commission; Bharrat Jagdeo (in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition) v The Attorney General, Dr Barton Scotland, Joseph Harmon & Guyana Elections Commission.
The other case out of Guyana involved Charrandass Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr. Barton Scotland, The Attorney General, Bharrat Jagdeo, Joseph Harmon & Guyana Elections Commission. These appeals concerned three matters filed relating to a No Confidence Motion that was passed by a margin of 33-32 against the Government of Guyana in the National Assembly on 21 December 2018. This Motion was tabled under Article 106(6) of the Guyana Constitution.
Delivering its ruling in these cases, the CCJ, among other things held that in an odd-number Assembly, all that was required was to determine whether the Motion had garnered “a majority of all the elected members.” In this case, that was 33 votes. Thus, the CCJ held that the motion was properly passed and that the provisions of Article 106(6) and (7) were accordingly triggered.
The other case, Zulfikar Mustapha v The Attorney General of Guyana and The Chairman of the Elections Commission concerned the constitutionality of the appointment the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”), who was appointed by the President of Guyana pursuant to the proviso of Article 161(2) of the Constitution. Article 161(2) required the Leader of the Opposition to submit a list of six nominees who were not unacceptable to the President.
The Court, among other things found that the process used to appoint the Chairman was flawed and did not comport with the constitutional requirements. In the circumstances, it ruled that the Chairman’s appointment was unconstitutional.
According to the annual report, there was a significant increase of 70% in the filing of new cases in the Original Jurisdiction for the court year 2018 to 2019 compared to 30% in the previous court year. These cases originated from Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
In its original jurisdiction, the CCJ interprets and applies the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (which established the Caribbean Community), and is an international court with compulsory and exclusive jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation of the treaty. The court said that it delivered two important judgments.
They are David Bain v The State of Trinidad and Tobago and Jason Jones v Council of Legal Education, Council for Human and Social Development and Council for Trade and Economic Development. The Court also had its first request for an Advisory Opinion pursuant to Article 212 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The Request was made by the Caribbean Community in Suit No. AOOJ2019/001. The Court has been asked to render its advice on two issues. First, whether Article 27(4) allows a Member State to opt out of a decision of the Conference taken under Article 46 to enlarge the classes of persons entitled to move and work freely in the Community. Second, whether the principle of non-reciprocity would enable nationals of those Member States which opted out of a decision under Article 27(4) of the Treaty to derive the benefits of the decision. The submissions on the Request for the Opinion will be considered in the upcoming court year.

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Country No of Cases filed in Appellate Jurisdiction Population
Guyana 20 777,859
Barbados 11 374,681
Dominica 04 285,719
Belize 02 73,925

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