Friends, relatives and colleagues filled Court One on Friday afternoon, with an overflow crowd in Court Two watching via CCTV as six local attorneys were recognized for their distinguished service and special abilities in various areas of law.
Acting Governor Franz Manderson and Premier Alden McLaughlin, both attorneys, attended the ceremony in which the newly appointed Queen’s Counsel were elevated to the “Inner Bar” where they are expected to make their expertise available to other attorneys for the public good. Each was presented by a senior QC who referred to the individual’s appointment as counsel to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II because of his or her loyalty, integrity, ability and being “learned in law.”
The presenter summarized the new QC’s career to date, adding a few personal details. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie recognized each one, calling him or her forward to read a declaration of office and sign the roll, which he witnessed. Duly enrolled, the QC was then invited to address the court.
Their professional backgrounds and accomplishments can be found on websites, but the speeches revealed qualities that made each new QC seem approachable, possessing attributes anyone could appreciate. One was described as a proficient pianist and marathoner; another, an enthusiastic dancer; a third was cited for having steered an associate to the only establishment in Hong Kong known to serve Appleton Rum, a pleasant reminder of the Caribbean.
One acknowledged the support of a steadfast spouse who was willing to listen “most of the time.” Another requested a few seconds of silence to honor a deceased parent.
All expressed their gratitude to family members and/or mentors for encouragement and inspiration, for setting “lofty expectations” and teaching the value of hard work and honesty.
Attorney Eileen Nervik, appointed a QC in 2013, presented the applications of First Legislative Counsel Myrtle Brandt, Solicitor General Jacqueline Wilson and Attorney Sheridan Brooks-Hurst. Tom Lowe QC presented the applications of two other attorneys in the private sector, Hector Robinson and Ross McDonough. Attorney Colin McKie, also appointed a QC in 2013, introduced Attorney Ben Tonner, the first member of Cayman’s criminal bar to receive the QC honor.
Ms. Brandt used her speech to explain legislative drafting – how one sentence can take days to write in order to avoid loopholes and express the legislators’ will; then a court can dissect it in minutes. She accepted her appointment as a statement of confidence in the work of her department.
Ms. Brooks-Hurst worked with government before forming her own firm in 1990. A leader in local family law, she has provided legal opinions in the U.S. and Canada on Cayman proceedings in matrimonial and children’s matters. She helped establish the first gender equality tribunal and is assisting with revision of adoption procedures.
Ms. Wilson served as Crown Counsel in Cayman 1997-2002, then worked as Director of the Legal and Enforcement Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission before returning to Cayman in 2012. She was also part of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
Mr. McDonough thanked the partners at Campbells for “the opportunity to work and live in this fantastic jurisdiction” and Mr. Robinson, now at Mourant Ozannes, said the practice of law still gave him a great thrill made even more enjoyable in the “land of soft fresh breezes.” Both men specialize in commercial litigation.
Mr. Tonner, best known for defending difficult criminal matters, paid tribute to the staff at Samson & McGrath for the painstaking behind-the-scenes work required to present cases.