GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — The Cayman Islands judiciary and its legal fraternities last week hosted the highest ranking member of the British judiciary ever to visit the territory in that capacity. A justice of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, Lord Mance, was there as keynote speaker for last Tuesday’s fifth annual Judicial Distinguished Guest Lecture.
Mance is one of the 12 most senior UK judges, all of whom rotate in sitting on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies and for many other Commonwealth countries. These same 12 judges constitute the UK Supreme Court as well, the final appellate court for the UK itself.
While there, Mance was hosted jointly by the judicial administration, the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society.
A reception in his honour hosted by the two legal professional associations was held and, in his brief remarks at that event, Mance said he hoped that he had presented the “human face” of the Privy Council. He added that he valued the opportunity that the visit offered to meet the lawyers who appear before him and his colleagues, and to develop relationships with members of the judiciary on whose judgments they must decide. He also remarked on the value of visiting the law school and discussing matters of interest to budding lawyers there.
These meetings offered opportunities, he said, of learning how local practitioners and courts and the Privy Council can best work together. Mance said that he would take back to London suggestions that had been made about some possible procedural changes that might further that goal as well as perhaps reduce local costs of appeals to the Privy Council. He indicated that consideration would also be given to preparing a summary of key cases on Privy Council practice, to supplement the information in Cayman’s Grand Court Rules and Practice Directions.
Commenting separately, he said that his visit had been “a very enriching experience,” and that he considered it “a good idea” to maintain relationships with judges in local jurisdictions from which cases come to the Privy Council. He said that this visit helped to inform and consolidate understanding of the local legal scene and its nuances.
The lecture was attended by some 80 attorneys and other legal professionals. Speaking on the topic of “Jurisdiction and Justiciability,” Mance sought to explain the issues that lawyers and courts have to consider when determining where cases can and should be heard and decided.
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who initiated the lecture series held annually at the courts, commented that he was particularly pleased with how the visit had gone. He noted that Mance, had been very keen to meet the judges and to get, in the time allowed, as clear an understanding as he could of the local circumstances and the business coming before the courts.
The chief justice said that Mance had visited Grand Cayman many years ago as counsel. Mance had commented, the Chief Justice said, on the remarkable changes that have taken place since then, including the complexity of the cases going to the Privy Council from Cayman.
Smellie thanked the legal professional associations for their help in making the arrangements for Mance’s visit.
In his vote of thanks at the end of the lecture, Justice Charles Quin thanked Mance and paid tribute to Tabitha Philander, clerk of the court, for organising the lecture, and to the two legal associations for hosting the reception and arranging some other aspects of the visit.
Nick Rogers, vice president of the Caymanian Bar Association, in his remarks at the reception thanked Mance on behalf of the two associations for his erudite presentation.
The Judicial Department anticipates shortly placing a copy of Mance’s speech on the judicial website.