News Americas, PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Sat. July 16, 2011: As legal luminaries showered praises on outgoing President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ), Michael de la Bastide, the distinguished chief judge warned that the regional Court must continue to handle its own budget and stressed that the CCJ must continue to function at all costs.
Friday’s special sitting of the Court to say farewell to the first President of the CCJ saw scores of attorneys including distinguished jurists, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps gathered in the spacious court room for the occasion.
De la Bastide, who celebrates 50 years at the Bar this year, took Friday’s occasion to highlight the importance of maintaining the present governance structure of the Court and Commission in relation to its funding and its budget.
He said: “I take this opportunity as I end my tenure as President, to warn and avise strongly against any proposal, howeer well intended, which would remove or abridge the Court’s rihts in relation to its own budget in the name of corfrecting an alleged but illusory “flaw” in the governance structure of the Court and Commission.”
THe CCJ President attributed the successes of the Court to among other things “the measures which the CARICOM Heads of Government have to their credit taken to ensure the independence of the Court… to protect the Court from political and other extraneous influence and to give to it every chance of becoming a quality court”
And he added: “It would be nothing short of a tragedy for this region if the CCJ were allowed for whatever reason or by whatever means either to depart the scene altogether or to compromise the standards of excellence which it has set itself and has so far achieved. I do not think that future generations will easily forgive us for such a wanton waste of a unique opportunity.
“I make no apology for saying I am proud of this Court and I am comforted by the knowledge as I take my leave that it is in good hands”
Justice Rolston Nelson, who presided, received submissions from various key speakers including the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Ivor Archie, the acting Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago Prakash Ramadhaar, Jamaican Dr. Lloyd Barnett who spoke on behalf of the Rfegional Jjudicial and Legal Services Commission, acting Secretary General of CARICOM, Lolita Applewhaite, Charperson of the Council of Legal Education, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, Wilfred Abrahams of the Organisation of the Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA), Court Executive Officer, Christie-Anne Morris-Allleyne, and Registrar Paula Pierre.
All the Chief Justices of the Caribbean Community were invited, but only the Chief Justices of the Eastern Caribbean Hugh Rawlins and Archie of Trinidad and Tobago attended and they sat with the CCJ judges.
Former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean, Sir Dennis Byron who succeeds La Bastide will be inaugurated in his home country of St. Kitts and Nevis on September 1. Until then Nelson will act as President of the CCJ.
View full video of the ceremony here: http://hotfile.com/dl/124176472/919cd7c/CCJ_Retirement_of_Chief_Justice.wmv.html