The announcement was made last year, but the ceremony in Grand Court on Friday brought home to onlookers both the respect and responsibility that come with the title of Queen’s Counsel.
According to the terms of the letters patent read by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, Queen Elizabeth II is ‘well satisfied with the loyalty, integrity and ability’ of Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, Attorney Nigel Clifford, Attorney Graham Ritchie and Attorney Charles Quin.
She has therefore appointed each to be her Counsel, which they will acknowledge by using the letters QC after their names.
But a Queen’s Counsel is also one whose advice and representation is of the highest competence. So, the Chief Justice indicated, the appointments were both in recognition of past achievements and in expectation of future service.
After signing the necessary documents, each QC in turn declared that he would well and truly serve Her Majesty and all he may be lawfully called upon to serve ‘according to the best of my skill and understanding.’
Ramon Alberga QC welcomed the four to the ‘inner bar’ and extended congratulations on behalf of the entire legal profession.
He spoke of the sterling contributions each has made to the administration of justice and the development of law in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Bulgin came to Cayman as Crown Counsel in 1992, dealing with both criminal and civil matters. He subsequently served as Solicitor General and was appointed Attorney General in 2003.
Mr. Ritchie has been practising law in Cayman since 1984. He played a leading role in developing the litigation department of Charles Adams, Ritchie Duckworth, where he is now partner. He is known for his expertise in international asset tracing, trust and commercial litigation.
Mr. Quin began practising law in Cayman in 1985. In 1992 He and Attorney Graham Hampson established the firm of Quin and Hampson. Since his appointment in 1993, he has served on various occasions as Acting Magistrate. He was president of the Law Society 1999-2000.
Mr. Clifford was called to the bar in 1973 and began practising in Cayman in 1987. He made such a significant contribution to the litigation department at Hunter & Hunter that he was made a partner. Now retired, he remains a senior counsel to the firm.
In concluding his remarks, Mr. Alberga aid he had been instructed by all four new QCs; he had appeared in court with them and against them. They were thorough and painstaking as instructing attorneys; they were formidable and challenging as opponents. They each possess the highest ethical standards ‘and their word can always be relied upon.’
The new QCs addressed the court briefly, thanking their families, co-workers and all who had inspired them throughout their careers.
Showing that QCs have a sense of humour, Mr. Clifford wished his fellow appointees ‘every success in the future – except, I should say, on any occasions when they are against me in a case.’
More seriously, he set out an historical perspective to the appointment to the appointments.
Mr. Clifford paid tribute to the legal profession and to the judiciary ‘for creating a legal system of outstanding quality and one held in high regard, both here and abroad.
‘This is what provides the scope for the appointment of Queen’s Counsel from within our own ranks – which is a most welcome development in this jurisdiction,’ he pointed out.
Previously, he explained, Cayman was fortunate in attracting eminent leading counsel from other parts of the Caribbean and elsewhere to set up practice here – most notably, Mr. Alberga, who has been a QC for 40 years.
‘But then, in 2002, there was a most significant development with the local appointment of Mr. Andrew Jones to the rank of Queen’s Counsel, the only other local appointment having been that previously of the Chief Justice himself when he was serving as Solicitor General.’
He and his fellow appointees were fortunate to be following in such distinguished footsteps, Mr. Clifford said. ‘But I can also express the sincere hope that other deserving candidates will follow – which will provide an ongoing hallmark of quality representation available in this jurisdiction.
‘It will also be an important incentive for the new generation of Caymanian attorneys to strive towards for the future, making us, over time, less dependent on instructing people from outside the Islands,’ Mr. Clifford predicted.
He thanked the Chief Justice for the part he had played in promoting local appointments of Queen’s Counsel. ‘He has shown particular foresight in this regard in ensuring that there is high quality local representation available in this jurisdiction for both what may be termed the local and international cases.
‘It is most important to the community as a whole that the people of these Islands have proper representation in cases which may affect their lives significantly,’ Mr. Clifford emphasised.
‘It is also absolutely essential to the economic well-being of Cayman that the financial community, including for this purpose the international financial community, be well served in the complex commercial litigation which is an inevitable consequence of business conducted in a major financial centre of the world.’
According to a Government Information Services release when the appointments were announced, nominations for QC are made to the Secretary of State by the Governor, with the support of the Chief Justice.
The Governor, Mr. Bruce Dinwiddy, appointed these four attorneys as QCs with the approval of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on behalf of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Jack Straw (Caymanian Compass, 10 December).