Financial Services Division forges ahead

The establishment of the Financial Services Division
of Cayman’s Grand Court took another step forward recently with the
announcement of the division’s registrar and the listing officer in the Cayman
Islands Gazette.

The appointments of Registrar
Audrey Bodden and Listing Officer Yasmin Ebanks were formalised in Practice
Directions No. 1/2010 titled Procedure Relating to the Commencement and Management
of Financial Services Proceedings, issued by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

The directions provide guidance for
both officers regarding their roles in the FSD. They also define procedures
related to applications for deferral of payment of court fees, multiple
proceedings to be treated as consolidated, and convening case management
conferences, among other matters.  The
directions also allow judges to conduct case management conferences and certain
hearings, as appropriate, by means of telephone or video link.

A second set of Practice Directions
dealing specifically with corporate schemes of compromises or arrangements that
concern many Financial Services Division were also issued in Monday’s Gazette.        

The Financial Services Division is
in the final stages of a phased introduction that started in November 2009. It
is now expected to become fully operational over the next two weeks in the
custom-designed third floor facility in the Kirk House building.

Chief Justice Smellie said the
public can expect improvements in the courts in general and in
financial-related hearings in particular as a result of the establishment of
the Financial Services Division.

“The sheer fact that we now have
six judges serving on the FSD means that we will be able to respond even more
quickly and efficiently to the special needs of those cases,” he said.

Mr. Smellie noted that the decision
to establish a Financial Services Division was based on the need to ensure that
the Grand Court could continue to maintain its high standards of delivery indefinitely
in response to the growing number of related cases that come before the court
and their increasing complexity.  The
Financial Services Division now handles around 20 additional cases per month.

To meet the new challenges, the
court last November added three new judges: Angus Foster, Andrew Jones and Sir
Peter Cresswell. They join Mr. Smellie, Alexander Henderson and Charles Quin as
judges available for FSD cases. 

Mr. Smellie said some of the
judges, including him, sit in the other divisions of the Grand Court from time
to time, depending on demand in the Financial Services Division and other
areas.  Cases are assigned on the basis
of judges’ availability and on their specialised knowledge and experience. Once
a judge is assigned to a an FSD case, that judge generally will remain with it
until the final judgment.


Major benefit

Ritch and Conolly partner Cherry
Bridges said allowing judges to retain command throughout the life of cases is
one of the major benefits of the Financial Services Division.

“There is a tremendous advantage in
having an assigned judge at the commencement of a matter, as this results in
the judge having a more individual and hands-on approach in resolving matters,”
she said.

Maples Head of Litigation Aristos
Galatopoulos said litigants appreciate active case management from specialist

“We believe that these procedures
within the FSD are at the forefront of modern international litigation, with
scope to develop further as technology and speed become even more vital in
resolving complex disputes.”

The FSD’s advantages are also
filtering down to the clients, said Jeremy Walton, head of the Cayman
Litigation Practice Group at Appleby.

“Clients appreciate the speed with
which hearings can now be arranged, the familiarity which assigned judges
develop with their cases, and the quality of judgments which are delivered,” he

Ogier’s Shaun Folpp said the
Financial Services Division brings a new level of modern judicial technique to
the many heavy commercial cases in Cayman.

“The speed and efficiency of the
new court is increasingly welcomed, not just by practitioners, but by overseas
parties in particular,” he said.

Walkers’ Partner Colette Wilkins
spoke about the importance of the new court to Cayman’s legal industry.

“In our view, the creation of the
FSD demonstrates a clear commitment by the jurisdiction to be able to service
the needs of the financial sector,” she said. 


Mr. Smellie