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Nov 9, 2018

Aspiring Attorney Loses Law School’s Challenge at C.C.J.

Adrian Saunders

The Caribbean Court of Justice today delivered a ruling that affects law students across the region.  It ruled against aspiring attorney, Jason Jones and in favour of the Council for Trade and Economic Development, the Council for Human and Social Development and the Council for Legal Education.  Jones filed an application for special leave against the entities, contending that the defendants have infringed, and continue to infringe, on his rights and benefits under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The treaty speaks to the free movement of skilled nationals and acceptance of qualification among member states, because, without a Legal Education Certificate, he is not entitled to practice law in the region.  His application alleged that the automatic acceptance of persons graduating with law degrees from University of the West Indies into the law schools, and the requirement for the holders of “non-UWI” law degrees to sit an entrance exam was a breach of the Treaty.  Jones also submitted that holders of degrees from other universities must vie for a very limited number of seats which become available only after the automatic admission of UWI graduates. The C.C.J. denied Jones’ application. The judgment was delivered by Justice Adrian Saunders.

 

Adrian Saunders, Judge, Caribbean Court of Justice

“The claim could not proceed against COHSAD and COTED as they did not posses juridical personalities. It is in fact the Community that is possessed of that capacity. The court considered the community’s and the council’s second objection namely that provisions of the treaty could not be enforced against the council because it is not amenable to the original jurisdiction of the court. It was submitted that although the council was established by in 1971 agreement that predated the treaty which came into force in 2001 there was not mention of the council or the agreement in the treaty. Article ten of the treaty identifies the entities which are the principals and other organs of the community and those do not include the council. Having found that a claim against COHSAD and against COTED could not be entertained since they lacked juridical capacity and that the claim against eh council should be struck out, the court considered whether the application for special leave to commence proceedings should proceed against the community. The court noted that the remedy that Mr. Jones sought spoke to the o operations of the agreement, the council and the law schools and the conduct and actions of the council. The automatic acceptance of UWI LLB degrees is something solely by the council and its law schools. The requirements that others must write an entrance examination is applied solely by the council and the law schools. The court found that since it had no jurisdiction over the council it would be pointless to grant special leave to file and originate an application against a community that sought declarations against the council.”

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