Alicia Nicholls

March 18, 2020 was a historic day for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) when it delivered its first Advisory Opinion since its establishment.

Inter alia, the CCJ is empowered with exclusive jurisdiction under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to deliver advisory opinions concerning the interpretation and application of the RTC.

For a background to the opinion, please see a previous article I co-authored with Dr. Jan Yves Remy here. In brief, the background surrounded a request by two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States (Antigua & Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis) to opt-out of a decision of the Conference of Heads of Government to expand the categories of skilled nationals entitled to move and work freely across the Community to include security guards and agricultural workers. The opt-outs were subsequently granted by the Conference to these two Member States for a period of 5-years.

The Court was asked by the Community to render an Advisory Opinion on whether (1) a Member State could lawfully opt out of the decision of the Conference expanding the categories of persons entitled to move and work freely in the Community; and (2) whether the principle of non-reciprocity would enable nationals of the opting out Member States to still derive the benefits accruing under the enlargement decision.

In its Advisory Opinion, the Court has opined that freedom of movement of skilled nationals is a ‘fundamental objective’ of the Community, but that the 5-year opt-out granted by the Conference of Heads of Government to the two Member States from the enlargement decision is not prejudicial to this fundamental objective.

It also opined that non-reciprocity applied so other Member States must still allow Antiguan/Barbudan and Kittian/Nevisian security guards and agricultural workers access to their labour markets.

Read the full Advisory Opinion here and the summary here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international trade and development consultant. You can also read more of her commentaries at www.caribbeantradelaw.com and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed herein are her personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may be affiliated from time to time.