Six attorneys in the Cayman Islands have been appointed as Queen’s Counsel.
Appointees include the first local criminal bar member, Benjamin Tonner, to be named to the position, according to a press release from the Cayman Islands Judicial Administration.
The “silks,” as they are known informally, serve as public officers, explained Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.
“QCs are public officers in the sense that they are available to serve wherever there is a need for the special ability and seniority implied in their appointments,” he said in a press statement.
“These appointments are a responsibility that my fellow judges and I take very seriously.”
The chief justice will initiate a formal ceremony on Friday, Feb. 17 to admit the six new QCs to the Inner Bar of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.
The newest group is the first to be named in four years, following vetting by the chief justice and his colleagues, Governor Helen Kilpatrick and the incumbent U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson.
The chief justice said he seeks candidates who are “senior, long-serving, respected and distinguished members of the legal fraternity” before inviting them to the process.
Other appointments include director of the Legislative Drafting Department Myrtle Brandt, Campbells Senior Partner Ross McDonough, leading family law attorney Sheridan Brooks, Solicitor General Jacqueline Wilson and Mourant Ozannes partner Hector Robinson.
QCs from Overseas Territories must have served 15 years since appointment to the bar, compared to 10 years for U.K. candidates. They include public and private practitioners.
Since 1982, 22 Cayman Islands attorneys, including the new group of six, have been appointed QCs.
Chief Justice Smellie said he and his colleagues have sought to maintain balance in the number of appointments, relative to size of the profession and the local population. Such “homegrown” talent improves the ability to meet local needs, he said.
The term “silk” dates back to 17th century England when Queen’s Counsel first began wearing silk robes in court to denote distinction.