From its inception in 1971 the Faculty of Law Library has made the collection
and organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean primary legal materials its main
mission. Tremendous assistance has been received from the region’s
governments, which, for the most part, still honour their pledge to contribute
to the training of the region’s legal profession by providing the Library
with complimentary copies of legislation and transcripts of court decisions.
The Law Library’s efforts to make the case law collection accessible
outside its walls received a boost when U.S. AID provided funds, firstly,
during the 1980s, to prepare headnotes for the cases received from the Organisation
of Eastern Caribbean States, and in 2001 to edit and publish online the full
text of cases received from all superior courts of the region. In some instances
the collections date back to the late 1950s.
Carilaw is the result of this U.S.AID and University of the West Indies
partnership. Initially, it will contain the full text of nearly 20,000 cases
with headnotes. For other cases, only headnotes will be reproduced, but the
full text can be made available on request.
A selection of legislation, initially in areas of commercial law, and treaties
(bilateral and multilateral) will also be added to the website.
The database may be searched by date, jurisdiction, subject, judge, citation
number, title of case/legislation/treaty or by words or phrases. For subject
searches, the main branches of law are to be used (for example, constitutional
law, contract, family law, practice and procedure, real property, tort).
In a few cases topics such as damages, judicial review and negligence may
be retrieved using the subject field. However. the database allows for searching
of any word which if includes, and so, cases on manslaughter, murder, rape,
etc. which are sub-subjects of criminal law may be found by search the "Any
word (s) or phrases" field.
Most of the cases are those decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council (PC), and present day Supreme/High Courts and Courts of Appeal of
the islands listed on the jurisdictional page of CariLaw. Also included are
cases decided by the following courts:
The West Indian Court of Appeal (1920-1958)
Windward Islands and Leeward Islands Court of Appeal (1940-1967)
The Federal Supreme Court (1958-62)
The British Caribbean Court of Appeal (1962-1966)
West Indies Associated States Supreme Court (Court of Appeal and High Court)
Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal (1980 -
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (1980-
and by special courts such as the industrial Courts of Antigua and Barbados
and Trinidad and Tobago; the industrial Disputes Tribunal of Jamaica, the
Tax Appeal Board of Trinidad and Tobago and the Revenue Court of Jamaica.
Each case, item of legislation and treaty is preceded by a digest which
lists title, country, citation, subject and provides other pertinent information.
January 13, 2005