President of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT), Patterson Cheltenham, at yesterday’s official launch. (Photo compliments CXC)

The first President of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT) anticipates that exacting standards will be placed on this newly-formed institution.

Barbadian Patterson Cheltenham declared this after being sworn in as head of that independent judicial body during its launch on Monday, at the headquarters of the Caribbean Examination’s Council, Prince Road, Pine, St. Michael.

Speaking on behalf of the five-member team, he said: “We, the judges, are acutely aware and sensitive to the nature and scope of the remit to which we are committed. Exacting standards will rightly be imposed on us in the discharge of our functions.  Scrutiny will be incessant.”

However, he stressed that this should be viewed positively as strong incentives inspiring the tribunal towards the achievement of its goals “of a fair, balanced and transparent hearing process, designed to engender trust and confidence in the manner in which we discharge our judicial functions and the timely delivery of decisions in matters brought before us”.

He said the CCAT represented the culmination of an essential stage in the evolution of CARICOM – the establishment of an independent judicial body mandated to resolve the myriad employment related concerns of staff. 

Adding that it brought CARICOM institutions in line with best practices found among international organizations, Justice Patterson pointed out that the immunity of an international organization from legal suit is treated as a shield that protects it from the normal laws and jurisdictions of the courts and employment tribunals of its member states.

“It is this immunity from legal suit that precludes employees of international organizations from seeking redress. 

 “In order to provide these disadvantaged persons, commonly known as international civil servants with both a mechanism and a forum in which to litigate their employment related disputes, many international organizations have adopted their own internal administrative systems,” he explained.

Noting there were over 15 international administrative tribunals serving either multiple or single organizations under their respective statutes, the President said that CCAT, the newest entrant in the field, had one advantage that would immediately accrue to it – the ability to access the rich body of jurisprudence and learning already established in the area, though it would have to be “mined with a keen eye for relevance and applicability”. 

On February 29, 2019, the Heads of Governments of CARICOM adopted the statute of the Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal at their 30th Inter-sessional Meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis.

CCAT is expected to provide staff members of the CARICOM Secretariat and regional institutions, subject to CCAT’s jurisdiction, with a forum for the final settlement of employment disputes.

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