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The rules of the Caribbean court of Justice (CCJ)

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By now you would know that Rules of court are set out to guide the procedures of every court. They are either set out alongside the substantive law or separately. {{more}}

The Rules of the CCJ (Rules 2005) in its appellate jurisdiction came into being on June 24, 2005. These Rules would guide the court when it deals with matters as the final court of appeal in the Caribbean. You would recall that an inauguration ceremony was held on the April 16, 2005. There are presently six judges including the president. You would also remember that Barbados and Guyana were the only countries to accept the appellate jurisdiction of the court. The other countries are yet to meet certain constitutional requirements before dispelling with the Privy Council and embracing the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction.

The Rules contain nineteen parts. They are in many ways similar to our own Civil Procedure Rules (CPR 2000). Part 1 contains the overriding objective of the court which is “to deal with cases fairly and expeditiously so as to obtain a just result”.

The Rules provide information on such areas as the organization of the court and the Registry, sitting of the court, cost, documents required for the filing of a case,. and procedure pertaining to the filing and service of documents among others.

The court will conduct both general and special sittings at its seat of justice in Trinidad and Tobago and in the territory of any of the contracting member as the president sees fit. In conducting sessions in other member states it will be in many ways similar to our own roving Court of Appeal.

Notice of the sittings will be given on the court’s website. For general sittings notice will be posted in at least one local newspaper in general circulation and the government Gazette of the member states and for special sittings any public medium. For general sittings a notice of at least two weeks will be given and for special sittings at least 24 hours unless it is so urgent as to prevent such notice. The court will not sit on Saturdays and Sundays or bank holidays unless there is an emergency. It will be on vacations three times each year around the same time that the High Court will be on vacation.

When the court sits it must consist of no fewer than three judges. Notwithstanding this, the Rules provide for certain applications to be dealt with by a single judge. The court has a general power of case management and it will do what ever is necessary to cause the case to be ready so as to achieve the overriding objective of the Rules.

The main Registry is located at the seat of justice in Trinidad and Tobago and sub-registries are located in each member states. The Registrar has the duty to keep a register to record documents that are filed and judgments that are given. In keeping with modern technology an electronic register may be kept.

In addition to the traditional method, the Rules provide for the filing of documents via the internet. In order to implement this, an attorney-at-law must register for this service. A confidential unique electronic identifier will be provided for this purpose.

Provisions are also made for the service of documents via e-mail and facsimile. These however will be initiated after practice directions are issued by the President.

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