Members of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT). From left to right – J. Emile Ferdinand (St. Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica); Dancia Penn (The British Virgin Islands); Lisa Shoman (Belize); Westmin James (Trinidad and Tobago); and President, Patterson Cheltenham (Barbados). (Photo compliments CXC)

A new CARICOM institution was officially launched today at CXC’s headquarters, Prince Road, Pine, St. Michael, with its five-member team being sworn in by Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Justice Adrian Saunders.

It is the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT), which will be located in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Justice Saunders, in commending the body said: “The establishment of this tribunal represents for me yet another indication of CARICOM’s commitment to upholding the rule of law. The tribunal provides enhanced access to justice for staff members of CARICOM institutions, and it is therefore with a deep sense of pride and satisfaction that we witness today’s launch.”

He applauded the efforts of The University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the European Union and the International Labour Organization and various CARICOM institutions across the region, for their inspiration, assistance and determination to ensure the CCAT became a reality.

While providing the rationale behind CCAT’s establishment, Justice Saunders said: “Before today’s launch, CARICOM was in the undesirable position where the staff of its institutions faced obstacles in having reviewed internal administrative and disciplinary decisions with which they were not entirely satisfied. The establishment of CCAT seeks to close that gap.”

The tribunal, he stated, had important and interconnected responsibilities.  He said it provides the avenue for the open ventilation and final resolution of employment related grievances between CARICOM institutions and staff members.

It also affords protection to staff members when they have to contend with the possibility of wanting to seek judicial review before national courts, and it avoids them having to plead their diplomatic immunity before the national courts of member states.

He added that it affords those staff members adjudicatory outcomes that would be no less efficient and effective than those that would ordinarily have been otherwise obtained in the domestic courts.

Endorsing the view that the region should not regard the CCAT as a CCJ institution, Justice Saunders stressed that there were very practical issues which mitigate against any such perception.  

Pointing out that in the statute, appeals from the CCAT can go to the CCJ, he said: “We mustn’t forget that the staff of the CCJ, themselves, are entitled to access the institution, and therefore it is very problematic for the CCAT to be regarded as a CCJ body.” 

The five members are: President, Patterson Cheltenham (Barbados); Lisa Shoman (Belize); J. Emile Ferdinand (St. Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica); Dancia Penn (The British Virgin Islands); and Westmin James (Trinidad and Tobago).   

CARICOM Heads of Government approved the establishment of the Tribunal at their 30th Inter-sessional Meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis in February 2019.

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