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(Oct 08, 2009) On August 20, 2009, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled against Guyana in a case brought before it by a cement company located in Trinidad and its subsidiary located in Guyana. The companies alleged that Guyana had violated its obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which created the Caribbean Community and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. (Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, http
(last visited Oct. 3, 2009).) Guyana enacted the Treaty into law by adopting the Caribbean Community Act (2006 Guy. Stat. No. 8).

CARICOM has a common external tariff on cement of 15 percent. Cement of Community origin is exempt from customs duties. The common external tariff can be suspended by CARICOM's Council for Trade and Economic Development (CTED) under articles 82 and 83 of the Treaty. However, Guyana unilaterally suspended the tariff in 2006 after it had experienced extensive flooding and began building stadiums for the Cricket World Cup. The CCJ ruled that Guyana had violated the Treaty and could be held liable for damages. However, the complainants were unable to prove damages, as they had sold all of the cement they could manufacture during the period in question. The CCJ also found the European Court of Justice's decision in Manfredi v. Lloyd Adriatico Assicurazoni SpA, ([2006] 5 CMLR 17) — that the ECJ was not authorized to award exemplary damages in such a trade dispute — to be a persuasive authority. However, the CCJ did find that the CCJ was authorized to order Guyana to implement the tariff on non-CARICOM cement or seek a waiver from the CTED. Guyana was also ordered to pay two-thirds of the plaintiff's costs. (Trinidad Cement Limited & TCL Guyana Incorporated v. The State of the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana, [2009] CCJ 5 (OJ) (Aug. 20, 2009), Caribbean Court of Justice website, available at

The CCJ was created in 2005 to be a court of original jurisdiction in interpreting the Treaty of Chaguaramas and a final court of appeal for member states. However, only Barbados and Guyana have as yet given it jurisdiction to review the decisions of their domestic courts. In 2005, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London ruled that Jamaica could not effectively replace the Commonwealth Court with the CCJ without amending its constitution. (Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (1998) Ltd. & Ors v. Marshall-Burnett & Anor (Jamaica), 2005 UKPC No. 41 (Feb. 3, 2005), British and Irish Legal Information Institute website, available at http

Author: Stephen Clarke More by this author
Topic: Foreign trade and international finance More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Guyana More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 10/08/2009