U.S. Federal Trade Commission Partners with the CARICOM Competition Commission for Judicial Training Workshop
Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins
Bridgetown, Barbados (April 18, 2010) – At the request of the CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC), officials of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a two-and-a-half day workshop on competition and consumer protection law for members of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and the CCC. The workshop was held in St. Lucia from April 7-9, 2010. The program was co-funded by the Federal Trade Commission and the Economic Growth Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development.
Competition law – or antitrust law as it is known in the U.S. – is intended to improve consumer welfare by creating conditions where firms have incentives to compete in the market place. This will normally result in lower prices, greater consumer choice, and incentives for firms to find new and innovative ways to win consumer’s business. However, the benefits of competition can be lost when firms illegally collude to fix prices, when dominant firms use anticompetitive tactics to exclude new competitors, and when consumers are deceived through deceptive marketing schemes. The competition provisions in the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas, as well as national competition laws in Barbados and elsewhere, proscribe such anticompetitive behavior.
Competition legislation was introduced into CARICOM through the adoption of competition provisions in the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas, CARICOM’s organic instrument. The Treaty’s provisions are directly applicable in cases involving commerce among CARICOM’s member states. They are enforced by the CCC, which consists of seven members, and is headquartered in Paramaribo, Suriname. Its decisions are appealable to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The workshop participants included Hon. Stephen Williams, a senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who brought credibility through his ability to relate to judges as peers. Seven members of the CARICOM Competition Commission participated, including the chairperson Kusha Haraksingh. Seven members of the Caribbean Court of Justice participated, including its President Michael de la Bastide. Twenty two judges from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court also attended, including the Chief Justice the Honorable Hugh Rawlins of St. Lucia.
The program was an unqualified success. Judges were open to the subject matter, and recognized the need to be familiar with competition law as cases begin to reach them.