For an International Court to entertain and decide on merits of a dispute, it must have jurisdiction over the claim which must also be admissible. Jurisdiction and Admissibility are two phenomenon (phenomena) that form the basis for preliminary objection in international courts.[i] The two concepts are correlated; still, the distinction between them is very important and forms part of customary international law.[ii] It is worthy for the community to have provisions on both jurisdiction and admissibility very well-articulated in their constitutive treaties, lack of which brings about procedural irregularities.
This paper seeks to address jurisdiction and admissibility criteria of The East African Court of Justice, (hereinafter referred to as the EACJ). The Court derives its jurisdiction from Articles 27 and 30 of the Treaty.[iii] Looking at these provisions before they were amended, it could be noted that, framers never wanted a Court with inherent and expansive mandate that is equal to the High Courts of the Partner States.[iv]That it had limited jurisdiction, with its powers mainly limited to the interpretation and application of the Treaty.[v] On admissibility criteria, the Treaty is silent as to the requirement surrounding the exhaustion of local remedies before filing of references. From the practical orientation, the Court has been disregarding the requirement of exhaustion of local remedies but has a two months rule as an admissibility criteria as articulated under the Articles of the treaty. This paper will further draw the reference from the jurisprudence laid down by other international courts on jurisdiction and admissibility criteria as far as customary international law demands and then point out as to what ought to be done by the EACJ as a reflection of the international customary practice surrounding international regional adjudicative institutions in which the latter is covered.
[i]Douglas Z, The International Law of Investment Claims CUP Rule 15
[ii] KAUR, S (2020) Distinction between Jurisdiction and Admissibility in International investment law, Uppsala Universitet, Master’s Thesis
[iii] The Treaty establishing the East African Community, 1999
[iv] GATHII, J. (2014) Mission Creep or A Search for Relevance: The East African Court of Justice’s Human Rights Strategy, 24 Duke Journal Of Comparative & International Law. P. 249
[v] RUHANGISA, J.E (2011) Procedures and Functions of the East African Court of Justice In GASTORN, K et al (eds) Processes of Legal Integration in East African Community, Dar es Salaam University Press. P 148- 149