Chief Justice praises separation of powers

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie highlighted Cayman’s strides in separating government powers during a gala to honor the visiting chief justice of England and Wales.

Roger John Laugharne Thomas, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, visited the Cayman Islands in early March. He is the highest-ranking British judge to ever visit the islands.

While in Cayman, Lord Thomas spoke in the courts’ Distinguished Speaker Series. The law association gala hosted by the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society closed out his scheduled events in Grand Cayman. The Marriott Beach Resort event attracted a reported 167 guests.

During the evening’s keynote address, Justice Smellie outlined Cayman’s progression in the legal field, pointing to the 1959 Constitutional Order as an early step toward successfully separating the three branches of government.

“It is here, perhaps uniquely in our shared history, that Cayman and those other territories and now independent commonwealth countries, can claim to have outpaced Britain in constitutional advancement,” Mr. Smellie said.

Justice Smellie praised the growth of Cayman’s legal industry since 1960, when Grand Cayman had only two trained lawyers as residents. He estimated the current population of locally based lawyers is now around 800.

He also pointed to the Truman Bodden Law School, now its 35th year, as representative of Cayman’s professional growth.

Justice Smellie went further to describe notable steps toward addressing local areas of need. He highlighted the Summary Court’s three treatment initiatives, including a drug treatment program with 80 graduates. He pointed to the establishment of the Grand Court’s Financial Services Division as another major achievement.

“On this occasion, special mention must also be made of the Financial Services Division of the Grand Court, established in 2009 to deal with the most complex of the myriad of commercial cases generated by the financial services industry. The FSD has taken in well over 200 such cases every year since inception,” he said.

Justice Smellie described the evening’s gala as symbolic of the symbiotic relationship between the bar and the bench.

He wished Lord Thomas the best in his upcoming retirement.

“You certainly have the British public’s and our admiration and gratitude for your outstanding service,” he said.

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