Bush ‘conspiracy’ lawsuit: Ex-governor Taylor served with writ

Former Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has effectively been served with a civil lawsuit by West Bay MLA and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, according to a Grand Court judgment issued this week.

Closed-door legal arguments over whether and how Mr. Taylor could be officially served (notified) of Mr. Bush’s claims have delayed the lawsuit filed by the former Cayman Islands premier for about a year. Mr. Taylor is now the British ambassador to Mexico.

This week’s ruling is significant, according to Mr. Bush’s senior attorney Michael Alberga, because it now forces former Governor Taylor to respond to the claims and raises the possibility that Mr. Taylor might be called to the witness stand if the matter goes to trial.

Mr. Bush’s initial writ of summons, filed against Mr. Taylor, former Police Commissioner David Baines and the attorney general (as the representative of the Cayman Islands government) on Oct. 21, 2015, alleged malicious prosecution of the former premier and accused those named in the lawsuit of conspiring to make Mr. Bush lose his political office.

Mr. Bush has claimed that a number of police investigations of him during 2011-2012 were orchestrated with the goal of ultimately removing him as premier, which occurred via a “no confidence” vote of the Legislative Assembly in December 2012.

The opposition leader was later brought to trial on corruption charges in 2014. He was ultimately acquitted.

Mr. Bush filed the October 2015 lawsuit, claiming that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Baines had “breached their respective constitutional duties” in the alleged conspiracy. Mr. Baines and the governor’s office in Cayman have denied all such allegations in the past.

This week’s ruling is significant, according to Mr. Bush’s senior attorney Michael Alberga, because it now forces former Governor Taylor to respond to the claims and raises the possibility that Mr. Taylor might be called to the witness stand if the matter goes to trial.

When the writ was initially filed, the Cayman Islands Attorney General’s Office refused to accept the service of the court papers on behalf of former Governor Taylor, who was no longer in the jurisdiction at the time, court records state. Mr. Taylor took up the ambassador’s position in 2013.

Stating their view that it would be “practically impossible” to personally serve Mr. Taylor with the writ of summons in Mexico, Mr. Bush’s lawyers then asked the Cayman Islands Grand Court for permission to serve Mr. Taylor with the writ via “substituted service” – either in email or by Federal Express courier.

In early March, Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Richard Williams ordered that Mr. Bush be granted leave to serve the writ via alternative means. According to court records, a Fedex package was delivered to the British Embassy in Mexico on March 14, 2016, containing the writ of summons. Four days later, an email was sent to the British diplomatic mission in Mexico with the same documents.

Attorneys for Mr. Taylor objected to the method of service used in issuing the writ and applied to the Cayman Islands Grand Court on May 13, 2016, asking the court to declare the lawsuit had not been “duly served” and that Mr. Bush’s attorneys had not provided “full and frank disclosure” in their application for “substituted service” made to Justice Williams in March.

Mr. Taylor’s attorneys, led by Martin Griffiths, QC, put forth a number of legal arguments as to why the British ambassador to Mexico was not served appropriately according to Mexican law or the Hague Convention. Mr. Taylor’s diplomatic immunity was also invoked in the arguments.

Mr. Griffiths stated that the Cayman Islands Grand Court was not properly informed of the relevant laws before making its March order, allowing the former governor to be served with the writ.

Mr. Bush’s attorneys argued that their client did not know Mr. Taylor’s personal address in Mexico and had no practical way of finding that out, as Mexican law requires service of summons in such a case at the individual’s personal address. They also stated that Mr. Taylor well knew of the existence of the lawsuit and was aware it had been delivered to the British embassy.

Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Ingrid Mangatal heard the arguments in mid-July and issued her ruling in the matter on Tuesday.

“In my judgment, service by email was an acceptable mode of substituted service,” Justice Mangatal wrote. “The application to set aside the order of [Justice] Williams should be dismissed.”

7
2

2 COMMENTS

  1. Truly speaking, one would have had to listen to this case in its entirety; to understand that Mr McKeva has good reasons for wanting to take such actions. Any Caymanian, in fact anyone, with a conscious mind would have been appalled at the back-door email comments made. I was truly saddened, because I never dreamed that I would have witnessed such vicious behavior from people we trusted.

    6

    19
  2. McKeeva seems to be taking a bit of a political risk so close to elections by dragging up this matter at this time. We shall see how it plays out.

    3

    0

Comments are closed.