Judicial history was made in December 2006 when the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council sat in The Bahamas, at the Court of Appeal in Nassau. It was the first time that the Privy Council, an institution in continuous existence since the 17th century, had sat outside the United Kingdom, where it normally sits at Chambers in Downing Street, London.
The Privy Council is the final Appellate Court for The Bahamas. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson marked the occasion during the Opening Ceremony for the Council’s visit and work in The Bahamas. *”The role of the Privy Council in the strength of our political democracy, and in the acknowledgement and acceptance of the rule of law, is very significant. The resulting certainty and stability brought to our judicial system by the Privy Council are acknowledged with thanks and are deeply appreciated."*
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Senior Law Lord responded:
*"Our unprecedented sitting here today reminds us that while the courts are not the only – or even the most important department of government – they have a crucial role to play and crucial duties to perform. It is the duty of the court first of all to interpret and apply the Constitution of The Bahamas. The courts must contribute to the peace, tranquility and good governance by enforcing the law, punishing proven wrongdoers and seeking to ensure that public power is exercised reasonably, fairly, honestly and for proper purposes. They must try to ensure that rights are protected and duties performed.
"They must underwrite the wealth and prosperity by providing that legal certainty, clarity and predictability which are the essential pre-conditions of a successful investment, commerce and finance, ever more so in a shrinking world. And the courts are guardians of the rule of law.
The importance of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sitting currently in Nassau cannot be overstated. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the highest court of appeal for United Kingdom overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and for those independent Commonwealth countries, The Bahamas included, that have "retained the appeal to Her Majesty in Council or, in the case of Republics, to the Judicial Committee."*