CHARLESTOWN (July 28, 2016) “If we say we are independent, we should be able to run our own court system, we should not have to send our matters up to England” said Theodore L Hobson QC MH
The observation was made in an interview conducted by local writer, Lorna Smithen-Bussue in his office at Springates South, Lower Government Rd. Charlestown.
A paradigm shift is being witnessed on a worldwide level where governments seem to be moving away from the influence of internationally collective decisions to more domestic decisions. This shift has resulted in those in governance becoming increasingly engaged in debates on the benefits of retaining membership in such organizations as European Union (EU) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and even more regional organizations such as Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Attorney-at-Law, Theodore Hobson, commented on the implications of the current trend of governments functioning on a more domestic rather than collective level particularly in regards to the Federation of St. Kitts- Nevis.
The Federal state of St. Kitts and Nevis, like most other British territories shares a historical relationship with Great Britain based on colonialism where judicially, the Privy Council in England, served as the court of justice for these territories.
The formation of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was thought by Political Scientists to signal the end of British Colonialism and herald the beginning of a Supreme Court in the Caribbean. However, only Guyana, Barbados, Belize and quite recently Dominica have accepted the CCJ as their final court. For the other countries of CARICOM issues relating to civil, commercial and criminal matters, the Privy Council, is still their final court.
“We in the Caribbean as usual lack the self-confidence to a certain extent in ourselves. If we say we are independent, we should be able to run our own court system. We should not have to send our matters up to England” said Mr. Hobson.
In Mr. Hobson’s opinion, our domestic judicial foundation is not affected in any way by Brexit. He however, thinks that the decision will affect Britain in many respects as the European Court of Justice deals with issues of those countries that are a part of the European Union. Britain then might have to adjust some of its own domestic laws as they relate to immigration.
“Britain feels that a lot of people are coming into their country and she can’t stop it. So in a sense they lack control over their own country. The Privy Council does not administer the European law, it deals with the law of the country that goes to them” Mr. Hobson said.
It is perceived by some that that Britain’s decision to exit the European Union may indirectly affect the adjudication of the laws of St. Kitts- Nevis. For example, based on the European Courts and Treaties, hanging was abolished in Britain, however, according to Hobson, “We still have them in our books. For that reason, you’ll find that very few murderers are now sentenced to be hanged because they are aware that when it gets to the Privy Council, it will find some way of not allowing it to go through. They are supposed to adjudicate the laws as it is in St. Kitts and Nevis, but human beings are human beings and they will find some way of preventing the matter.”
Others criticize Britain’s decision as possibly leading to the destabilization of trade and political relationships especially on the issue of the European Development Fund (EDF) which is considered by CARICOM territories to be their major source of concessionary grant from EU.
Hobson opined that “Britain would have been an advocate for the former colonies but the EU is an entity in itself, regardless of whether Britain is there or not. They will have ambassadors here and they would still be here because it is very important to them to have their own relationship with other countries.
As part of the nationalistic trend Jamaica has also formed a committee to look at the benefits accrued from being a member state of CARICOM
“It’s cyclical, and right now there are countries in Europe who feel threatened as well” said Hobson.
It is hoped that governments, particularly of St. Kitts and Nevis will share the global concept that by becoming member states of organizations, they are not losing their individuality but rather embracing a collective identity which is usually framed by limits and informed rules.