The primary focus of this dissertation is to determine the degree to which political, economic, and socio-cultural elites in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago influenced the development of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) original jurisdiction. As members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), both states replaced their protectionist model with open regionalism at the end of the 1980s. Open regionalism was adopted to make CARICOM member states internationally competitive. Open regionalism was also expected to create a stable regional trade environment. To ensure a stable economic environment, a regional court with original jurisdiction was proposed. A six member Preparatory Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (PREPCOM), on which Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago sat, was formed to draft the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice that would govern how the Court would interpret the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) and enforce judgments.
Through the use of qualitative research methods, namely elite interviews, document data, and text analysis, and a focus on three levels of analysis, that is, the international, regional, and domestic, three major conclusions are drawn. First, changes in the international economic environment caused Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago to support the establishment of a regional court. Second, Jamaica had far greater influence on the final structure of the CCJ than Trinidad & Tobago. Third, it was found that in both states the political elite had the greatest influence on the development and structure of the CCJ. The economic elite followed by the socio-cultural elite were found to have a lesser impact. These findings are significant because they account for the impact of elites and elite behavior on institutions in a much-neglected category of states: the developing world.