St John’s, Antigua (CMC) — A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the ruling Antigua Labour Party (ALP) and the Opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) to begin consultations on amending the constitution to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the country’s final appellate court.
Following a recent meeting with CCJ president, Charles Michael Dennis Byron, Prime Minister Gaston Brown signed the MOU with UPP Leader Harold Lovell.
However, according to Lovell, his party will not put a timeframe on the nation’s move to accept the CCJ as the appellate court.
The party’s leader said, on Thursday, “We believe there needs to be full public discussion and there needs to be meaningful consultation with all the major stakeholder groups in the country and on that basis we can move forward.”
He said the party will not get on board based on a statement from Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who said “Within the next eight months” the country will be fully on board with the CCJ.
The UK-based Privy Council is currently the final court of appeal for Antigua and Barbuda.
To substitute the CCJ for the Privy Council would require a constitutional change, which would have to be approved by voters in a referendum.
Only four CARICOM member states have signed onto the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction – they are Dominica, Barbados, Guyana, and Belize.