Legal transplant, development of the rule of law and post-colonial certainty in the Commonwealth Caribbean

  • Rajiv Jebodh

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In a broad sense, the states comprising the Commonwealth Caribbean have shared a common historical development arguably rooted in their colonial history. The social composition of the region is largely cosmopolitan, reflecting a meeting of various races and ethnicities, who are mainly the descendants of British and European colonial settlers and indentured labourers, African slaves, indigenous peoples and East Indian indentured labourers. By the 1950’s the movement towards independence by the British colonies gained momentum and these fledgling states with the newly acquired title of being independent from Britain were now tasked with the responsibility of creating a framework necessary to commence self-rule. Following independence, the majority of the Commonwealth Caribbean territories adopted the Westminster modelled constitutions to exist alongside a common law legal system which had been established as a result of the colonial process. The question remains however as to whether the various legal systems of the Commonwealth Caribbean have displayed sufficient adaptability in being able to address the intricacies of their diverse societies.
    With regard to the aforementioned, the aim of this thesis is to consider whether the rule of law, legal tradition and legal norms of the Commonwealth Caribbean region are showing progressive signs to reflect and integrate local customs and traditions. This will be weighed against the still predominant post-colonial legacy of the Westminster-modelled system, which dominates the legal and governance systems of the region. In examining the relationship between a dominant Westminster derived system and the contemporary situations, the thesis will put forward the idea that legal institutions have an important role to play to support a reconciliation between the past and the present to ensure post-colonial certainty. Issues of diversity, and how the legal system can integrate and respect the different Caribbean identities and customs is therefore essential to understand how the region can move away from a still predominant colonial Westminster driven legacy. The outcome of the thesis is therefore reliant on the consideration of how the rule of law, as manifested in existing legal norms, treat diversity and differences in belief systems, particularly in areas such as land rights, family ties and generally how equality is understood in the social and economic spheres. By looking at these key issues, this thesis wishes to evaluate to what extent a specific Commonwealth Caribbean legal identity has started to emerge, and how it has departed from the inherited Westminster-framed legal framework.
    Date of Award18 Jun 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorBryony Hoskins (Supervisor) & Narmala Halstead (Supervisor)


    • Commonwealth Caribbean
    • Westminster System
    • Rule of Law
    • Colonialism
    • Local knowledge

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