A CARICOM ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Submitted by Caleb Pilgrim
CARICOM, the GOB and Minister Colin Jordan are perhaps to be congratulated on the recent, belated establishment of a CARICOM Administrative Tribunal and its inauguration in Bridgetown, as reported this past Monday.
However, I would be remiss if I did not draw to the readers’ attention relevant historical antecedents and the fact that the GOB must ensure that Barbados is adequately represented on the Administrative Tribunal, if only to keep the Tribunal honest.
Most, if not everybody knows that for many years, the CCJ, despite having Justices from various jurisdictions, did not include a single Justice from Barbados, and often roundly condemned the Barbados Judicial System.
The origins of the new Tribunal lie in the case of Johnson v. CARICAD, the second case filed under the Court’s Original Jurisdiction. Plaintiff, a Barbadian, had been employed as a Head of Administration at CARICAD, a CARICOM Regional “Institution”. She had been summarily dismissed from her position after seventeen years service. Her dismissal occurred the first morning she returned to work after she had completed her approved study leave. Plaintiff had received no notice prior to termination.
Legal proceedings ensued shortly thereafter.
The CCJ subsequently ruled that it lacked jurisdiction on the grounds that CARICAD, despite its legal status as a CARICOM “Institution”, was not “a competent defendant”. The Court’s decision effectively meant that no Barbadian employed by a Regional Institution could obtain legal redress before the CCJ, regardless of injury.
The day after the CCJ dismissed the Plaintiff’s action, Plaintiff filed before the Barbados High Court. There the matter has remained for more than 12 years. Plaintiff made multiple applications in the interim. None of these applications were ruled upon, except in one instance where the then Master ruled, then vacated his ruling, then referred the matter to the then Registrar, who then went on leave and tragically died without ruling. The Master then retired. And there the matter there remained stymied, pending before the Barbados Court. Plaintiff had only been terminated in 2007.
It was in this context, 11 or 12 years ago, that I argued (in an open letter to the CARICOM Secretary General) for the establishment of a CARICOM Administrative Tribunal. (see attached).
I had also delivered a lunchtime lecture at the DLP George Street HQ urging the need to establish a CARICOM Administrative Tribunal. (See attached).
The need for such a Tribunal was also at the root of a Draft Statute that I presented at one of the seminars arranged by the Cave Hill Law Faculty. (See attached)
Law teaches that there is no wrong without a remedy. However, age and experience prove that such is not always the case. The new Tribunal should, in theory at least, help to remedy mischiefs where deserving Plaintiffs (such as the Plaintiff in Johnson v. CARICAD, and other unsung heroes) injured by the lawless actions by employers of regional “Institutions”.