The **Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain** met in Nassau this past week, for only the second time in its centuries old history. Speaking on behalf of the five Law Lords who comprise the Committee, Lord Hope of Craighead noted the significance, saying that the Constitution of the Bahamas recognises the Privy Council as the final Court of Appeal. When the Committee met in The Bahamas last year, 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.
At the Opening Ceremony marking the Committee’s second consecutive visit to The Bahamas, Sen. the Hon. Claire Hepburn, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said *”Whereas an occurrence marks an event as unique, a recurrence establishes a precedent.”* The sitting in The Bahamas is significant as well because the Committee heard a case emanating from the Cayman Islands. Also presenting welcoming remarks at the Opening Ceremony were former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest on behalf of the Inner Bar, and Wayne Munroe, President of the Bahamas Bar Association.
The Law Lords were hosted to an Inns of Court Dinner by the Bahamas Judicature. At that time, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to maintain judicial independence in The Bahamas. He noted that the political institutions of parliamentary democracy in The Bahamas are modelled after Westminster, and its legal and judicial institutions are based on English tradition, which he credited for the stability and prosperity The Bahamas has enjoyed through the years.
Lord Hope of Craighead thanked the Bahamas Government, The Court of Appeal, the Judicature and people of The Bahamas for their hospitality. He explained that the roots of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council date back to the times of the Saxons, and that Independent Commonwealth states choose to remain with the Council because it provides a quality product and service. *”It provides an extra layer of guarantee of integrity, particularly for a global financial centre, and has the capacity to adapt to new conditions and grasp new opportunities.”*
He asserted that the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council will return as often as it is invited to The Bahamas.