Kirk House gets prepped for court room

Six courts in five rooms

The third floor of Kirk House is being converted to a court room and facilities for the Civil Registry plus offices for the judges of the Court of Appeal and the new Financial Services Division.

The Kirk building, across Albert Panton Street from the Law Courts Building, already houses court rooms on the first and second floors.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie announced the creation of six divisions of Grand Court at the court’s ceremonial opening in January.

An advertisement appeared in the Compass of 18 August for specialist judges in the Financial Services Division. The ad says the division will begin operation on 1 November.

Clerk of Court Valdis Foldats said it would be nice if the refitting of the Kirk third floor could be finished by then, but he could not confirm a specific timeframe.

The entire area, previously the home of the Maritime Authority, has already been gutted.

Mr. Foldats said plans call for a central courtroom and two interview rooms along with offices and judges’ chambers.

The Public Works Department is in charge of renovations.

The need for another courtroom was evident on Monday when, not for the first time, six court lists had to be accommodated in the five available court rooms.

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal began its Summer Session and occupied Court 3. It is scheduled to be hearing matters until 11 September.

Justice Charles Quin began a criminal trial in Court 5 and Justice Alex Henderson continued a civil trial in Court 4. Both of these rooms are in Kirk House.

Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale held Traffic Court in Court 2, while Magistrate Grace Donalds presided in Court 1, dealing with her own list and that of Magistrate Nova Hall.

Meanwhile, Justice Roy Anderson, who is on temporary appointment, is hearing matters in chambers.

In the past, some matters have been heard in judges’ chambers as open court and even the court house library has been used.

The George Town Town Hall has not been available as a court room since Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

In his address in January, the Chief Justice reported on progress with the new Courts Building to be sited off Agnes Way, between Smith Road and the Linford Pierson Highway. ‘Final approvals have now been obtained,’ he said, ‘and with the tendering for bids for the construction to come, the intention remains to break ground by the beginning of the next fiscal year in July this year.’

The ground-breaking did not take place.