The issue, addressed in the Juveniles Law [Validation] Bill, 2013, appeared to be that court officials – including judges – had been using civil jurisdiction under the Juveniles Law (1990) when it was no longer legally valid.
Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour: “[The bill seeks to] validate all acts carried out in good faith by judges, magistrates and other authorised persons in the purported exercise of the civil jurisdiction under the Juveniles Law, 1990, between the 12th of March, 1996 and the 30th of June, 2012 and to indemnify the judges, magistrates and other authorised persons in respect of those acts carried out during that time.”
Mr. Seymour said that the problem occurred after Cayman Islands lawmakers passed the Youth Justice Law (1995) and a new version of the Children’s Law [also dated 1995].
The Youth Justice Law took effect in March 1996 and effectively repealed provisions relating to the juvenile court and the civil jurisdiction for matters related to children in the old Juveniles Law (1990).
“The Children’s Law (1995), which contained the provisions necessary for establishing the civil jurisdiction for matters relating to children never entered into force,” Mr. Seymour said. It was not immediately clear why the law was not put in place.
“Judges, magistrates and other authorized persons continued to act pursuant to the repealed sections of the Juvenile’s Law (1990). The actions carried out in good faith…are in need of validation,” Mr. Seymour said, adding that those included decisions by a juveniles court, actions of any judge, magistrate, Justice of the Peace, clerk or any other authorized person who acted in jurisdiction of Juvenile’s Law (1990).
The indemnification clause in the Juveniles Law [Validation] Bill, 2012, also indemnifies judges, magistrates and other court officers against “any claims, damages or legal proceedings” brought in relation to the use of authority under the Juveniles Law (1990) between 12 March, 1996 and 30 June, 2012. This would protect those individuals from being held liable in their personal capacity for any decisions they made under the non-valid Juveniles Law (1990).
The validation would not necessarily protect the government from being sued over those matters.