Judge’s age forces retirement

Justice Martin Taylor has retired from the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. He may not have wanted to, but he had no choice.

On Thursday, court president Justice Edward Zacca explained the reason for Mr. Taylor’s retirement. ‘The Governor of the Cayman Islands has decided on an age limit for Justices of the Court of Appeal,’ he announced to a small group of attorneys who had matters scheduled that day.

Justice Zacca said it was unfortunate that an experienced judge like Mr. Taylor, who was still willing to serve and who could continue making a valuable contribution, was unable to continue. Mr. Taylor’s well-reasoned judgments will continue to be used here and elsewhere, he predicted.

He emphasised that Justice Taylor’s knowledge of law and the manner in which he had conducted himself were exemplary.

He did not say what age limit had been decided.

Cayman’s judicial website states that Mr. Taylor was born in 1931, which means he will have turned 76 sometime this year.

The reference book Personalities Caribbean lists Justice Zacca’s birth date as 26 July 1931, putting his age at 76 years four months on the date of the announcement.

The other Court of Appeal judges are Justice Elliott Mottley, 68, and Justice Ian Forte, 71.

The Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack, has been off island. He is scheduled to return today, at which time he could be expected to respond to queries.

The Constitution of the Cayman Islands refers to age for judges of the Grand Court, but not for the Court of Appeal.

A Grand Court judge will ordinarily leave his offices when he reaches 65. The Governor may allow him to continue, but not past age 70. However, he may continue in order to complete matters that have already started before him.

Part Five of the Constitution states that the judges of the Court of Appeal shall be appointed by the Governor, acting in his discretion, in accordance with such instructions as he may receive from the Queen through a Secretary of State.

A person is qualified to be appointed to the Court of Appeal only if he holds or has held high judicial office.

As to length of service, judges of the Court of Appeal are appointed for whatever period is specified in the document by which the appointment is made official.

The Constitution further states that a judge of the Court of Appeal may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office ‘whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause’ or for misbehaviour. He shall not be removed except in accordance with specified procedures involving referral to the Queen.

After Justice Zacca’s announcement, Acting Attorney General Cheryll Richards rose to thank Justice Taylor for his service. Speaking for Attorney General Sam Bulgin and the Legal Department, she said they had always appreciated his unfailing courtesy, erudition and ability to zero in on the heart of complicated matters. She said he would be missed.

Justice Taylor said he was grateful for the kind remarks. He thanked present and past colleagues and said it had been a great privilege to serve in a jurisdiction where the work was demanding but most interesting.

He said it had been a great pleasure to have been introduced to people he truly believed were the friendliest in the world.

Justice Taylor said he would now devote himself to law and dispute resolution and did not expect to be in a court room again ‘Voluntarily,’ he added as a joke.

He said he had no regrets. ‘I have spent my life in the most interesting profession in the world.’

Born in the UK, Justice Taylor was called to the bar in British Columbia, Canada in 1963. After 15 years in private practice, he was appointed to that province’s Supreme Court in 1978. From 1989-95, he served on the Courts of Appeal for British Columbia and Yukon.

He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996 and acted as a Judge of the Cayman Islands Grand Court in 2000. He joined Cayman’s Court of Appeal in 2001.

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