Despite claims to the contrary, President of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Lord David Neuberger said Antigua & Barbuda is welcomed to stay with the London-based court.
“So far as we are concerned, we are very happy to continue hearing those appeals, as long as those countries wish to come to us for their appeals to be decided,” Lord Neuberger said.
During a video presentation at the Youth Forum of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) Education Campaign, Lord Neuberger said the Privy Council is willing to hear cases from Antigua & Barbuda and other Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) jurisdictions.
“We are aware that there are a number of countries that are considering withdrawing from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. We will be sorry to see them go, but we appreciate that it’s entirely a matter for them to decide according to their democratic processes,” the Law Lord stated.
Lord Neuberger’s comments come after Prime Minister Gaston Browne, last week, said Antigua & Barbuda could be kicked out of the Privy Council if the public does not vote to replace the court voluntarily, in the upcoming referendum.
He also warned that staying with the centuries-old court could pervert justice if it continues to reduce the time spent on hearing Caribbean cases.
Lord Neuberger said the Privy Council is taking steps to address issues surrounding high costs and access to the court, deemed as some of the key obstacles faced when attempting to utilise the court’s services.
“We are piloting a video link facility, so that hearings can take place over the Internet, at a time that is convenient for the local jurisdiction,” he explained.
Once in place, this service will help to reduce cost and eliminate travelling time for parties from the Caribbean or other jurisdictions from outside the UK.
The Privy Council Committee president also said judges from the UK are willing to travel to participating countries to hear their cases.