Lawyers’ bill to gov’t: $1.5M

The Cayman Islands government spent nearly $1.5 million on legal advice and/or services from attorneys not employed by the local public sector in three budget years between 2010 and 2013, an open records request has revealed.

The query, filed by local attorney Peter Polack, sought to determine how many cases these “outside counsel” had been used in and how much was spent for those services.

Mr. Polack also asked for information on how many official business trips had been taken by the attorney general, members of his staff, the director of public prosecutions and members of her staff during the three years. The costs for those trips was also noted in the open records information.

According to the records provided, the attorney general’s chambers spent just more than $930,000 between the 2010/11 budget and the 2012/13 budget on payments, travel and accommodation expenses for outside counsel. The outside counsel assisted in 27 cases during those three years.

The director of public prosecutions office spent just more than $524,000 for outside counsel in 24 cases between mid-2010 and mid-2013.

“The continued reliance on overseas counsel to perform work at great cost the office of the director of public prosecutions and the attorney generals office should be doing for their salary,” Mr. Polack said. “They are the only Cayman Islands government departments that subcontract their workload continuously and expensively.”

Neither Attorney General Samuel Bulgin nor Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards responded to emails seeking comment regarding the issues raised in the open records request or statements made by Mr. Polack.

By way of comparison, the Cayman Islands government is now spending about $2.5 million each year for legal aid. This is to provide legal representation for indigent defendants in criminal cases as well as in some civil matters before the courts.

Prosecutions relating to criminal matters are expected to cost $2.9 million in the current government budget.

The attorney general’s office spends just more than $1 million on the provision of legal advice to government, close to another $1 million on law teaching and publication and another $781,000 on drafting of legislation.

Travel bills

According to the records, Mr. Bulgin took a total of 17 official trips off island during the three-year period, at a cost of nearly $150,000.

The attorney general’s staff traveled on official business a total of 102 times between 2010 and 2013, including trips to the Sister Islands for hearings of court matters there. Those trips cost taxpayers just under $219,000.

By comparison, the director of public prosecutions traveled off island only once during the three-year period, spending $1,313.41.

The public prosecution staff made 13 trips during the three-year period, mainly to handle court cases on Cayman Brac. Total spending was less than $40,000 on the travel.