Roseau, Dominica – October 15, 2008……. Attorneys General and Ministers for Legal Affairs, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice and other legal officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) gathered in Dominica recently for the First Meeting of Senior Officials of the Legal Affairs Committee (SOLAC), Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) and the Fourteenth Special Meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC).
In an address at the opening ceremony at the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau, Dominica’s Attorney General, Hon. Francine Baron-Royer explained the mandate of the Legal Affairs Committee.
The Legal Affairs Committee was established by Article 18 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. It is made up of the Ministers responsible for Legal Affairs or Attorneys General of member states or both.
The Attorney General stated that CARICOM is a made up of many bodies and organs and the Legal Affairs Committee is tasked with the responsibility of advising them on treaty matters and other legal issues, most notably the harmonisation of laws of the Community.
Hon. Francine Baron-Royer also highlighted the role of Senior Officials of the Legal Affairs Committee (SOLAC), a body comprising at least two Attorneys General and senior officials of the Legal Affairs Committee. It is the responsibility of SOLAC to review matters for consideration by the Legal Affairs Committee, who will then advise CARICOM Heads of Government accordingly. SOLAC met for two days prior to the Meeting of the LAC.
Matters discussed by the Legal Affairs Committee during their meeting included:
· Stocktaking on where CARICOM countries are with respect to the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of Appeal ( Presently the CCJ is the final court of Appeal only for Barbados and Guyana)
· Discussion on the security of tenure of members of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission. This body is charged with the responsibility of the appointment of judges to the Court
· Examination of the status of instruments of the Community which in some cases have not been signed or have not been ratified by member states
· Discussion on a proposal from the Legal Services Office of the General Council to offer assistance to member states in relation to their individual law revision requirements
· Discussion on assistance from CARICOM to assist member states in conducting periodic reviews of their statute books in order to keep their laws up to date, in recognition of the fact that this is a costly exercise and most member states do not have the capacity to conduct law revision in a comprehensive fashion.