3 men built Maples foundation

Three men laid the foundation for
what the Maples law firm is today.

The first is James MacDonald, a
Canadian attorney who came to Cayman in 1960. The Hansard of the Legislative
Assembly in December that year records appreciation for his assistance in
drafting Cayman’s first Companies Law, the bedrock of the financial services

Mr. MacDonald practised law on his
own for several years. Then, as his wife Aileen told the National Archive
Memory Bank, “Jim wanted a partner because he was so tied down and could never
go anywhere.” He placed ads in foreign newspapers and went to see one of the respondents
in Nassau.

“He said when he came home he knew
exactly [John Maples] was the one he wanted — and he agreed to take the job.”

Cayman’s phone directory debuted in
December 1966 and it listed only MacDonald, James D. The next directory, in
August 1968, contained “MacDonald and Maples, law agents and barristers” in the
Watler Building on North Church Street.

By 1970-71, MacDonald and Maples
had moved to the Barclays Bank Building on Cardinal Avenue and the office had
two phones.

Douglas Calder, who knew Mr. Maples
from Cambridge, had joined the firm by this time, his name entered on the Court
Roll 5 December 1969.

Mrs. MacDonald said her husband
decided to retire and agreed the firm should be Maples and Calder: “It was
easier to say and better for them…”

The 1972 directory lists Maples and
Calder, Attorneys-at-Law, in the First National Bank Building.

The partners built a library of law
books from which other attorneys borrowed. In 1971, Mr. Calder brought to
Cayman the first complete set of English Law Reports, spending the enormous sum
of 38,000 pounds.  

In his 2003 Memory Bank interview,
Mr. Calder spoke of Mr. MacDonald as both “a maverick” and “a man of high

He also shared a conversation he
had with his partner after the 1972 Caymanian Protection Law was passed. Mr.
Calder said he applied for Caymanian status and suggested Mr. Maples apply. Mr.
Maples declined, explaining he intended to return to England to enter politics.

“That shows the mettle of the man,”
he commented. He said Mr. Maples stayed until around 1975.

Mr. Calder retired in 1986.