Table of Contents

  • I owe a deep gratitude to the distinguished attorneys-general, ministers of justice, justices and registrars and senior court officials who participated in the meetings on final appellate and regional courts, spanning a period of four years. Their composite expertise and belief in the project of the Commonwealth Secretariat infused the discussions and findings with the utmost level of expertise and insight available. This is indeed most commendable. To all, I give my outmost thanks. In particular, I wish to acknowledge the delegations of the regional courts of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Supreme Courts of Canada, New Zealand, the Eastern Caribbean, Barbados and Jamaica; the High Court of Australia; and the Court of Appeal of Guyana. The use of the work emanating from the several meetings has made this text possible, along with the generous use of papers presented by these judges, registrars and senior officials.

  • The examination that this book seeks to undertake relates to the manner in which the judicial evolution throughout various parts of the Commonwealth has been occurring over time. It will investigate the concomitant political independence of former British colonies and, in particular, the imperatives that were given expression through the establishment of a final appellate court on their own soil. Further, along with independence, there emerged the awareness of these states to look beyond colonial associations as component entities of regions – regions that often have the legacies of not just the British, but other colonial imperialists as well. Global trends had added to the dictates of seeking regional integration to enable countries to, at the very least, exert more leverage and, at the extreme, survive. This regionalism has heralded the formation of regional court establishment, yet another expression – and a more advanced one – of political and judicial independence.

  • The history of the British Empire is well documented and its revision is not within the scope of this book. That Empire’s global expanse could often be grasped when explained in terms of the sun never setting on it. Of course like any parent, the British Empire left its indelible genetic marks in critical areas of the legislative, executive and judicial arms of doing business in its former colonies.

  • As has been demonstrated above, the Commonwealth of British nation states thus preserved their right to appeal to the Privy Council. Over time, however, as these states came to believe in the need to assert their own judicial path, such appeals proceeded along an inexorable road of decline. This decline was expressed through the varying routes taken towards judicial independence by these Commonwealth countries.

  • The association of the practice of law across international borders with that of traditional international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is now undergoing change with the emergence of regional courts. This is as a result of the thrust of globalisation, which has changed not only the financial landscape of the planet, but has increasingly modified the legal parameters of the traditional forms of justice at the international level and access thereto. At the regional level, the challenges are indeed assuming an energy of their own, and in some respects are in the process of developing regional jurisprudence as a hybrid form of international law within the general body of international law itself.

  • The advent of the final appellate and regional courts have brought in their wake the beginnings of what is expected to be a mother lode of jurisprudential development for the particular countries and regions concerned.

  • Reference has been made throughout this book to the Commonwealth meetings that occurred between 2003 and 2007. The considered outcomes have, therefore, been the culmination of these meetings and visits, as well as interaction and exchanges among delegates. The final delivery of recommendations occurred at the July 2007 Commonwealth meetings. It is believed that given the wealth of experience and seniority of the delegates, these outcomes of determination for best practices are invaluable.