Justice Malcolm retires with accolades

Justice Alastair Malcolm and his wife, Anne, are flanked by attorneys from the public and private sectors after the late court session on Friday. - Photo: Carol Winker

The first judge to pass a murder sentence under Cayman’s new Conditional Release Law.

The trial judge for men charged with the 2012 Cayman National Bank robbery – the largest in local history.

The attorney who successfully defended his client in one of the largest money-laundering trials in the Cayman Islands (Cash4Titles in 2004).

To those who know him, it will come as no surprise that the people referred to above are in fact one and the same man – Alastair Malcolm, Queen’s Counsel.

Justice Malcolm’s last day in court was Friday.

In spite of the torrents of rain, attorneys from the public and private sectors attended a late afternoon session to pay tribute to the man who has been coming to Cayman for almost 17 years, first as lead counsel and then as a Grand Court judge.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards captured the mood when she said that the announcement of his retirement had been met with keen disappointment that he would no longer be on the bench. “We hoped that someone got the date wrong,” she confessed.

That sentiment was indicative of the high regard in which he was held, Ms. Richards continued.

She outlined various stages in his long and distinguished career, from his call to the bar in the U.K. in 1971 to his work as assistant recorder and then recorder in 1986, to being made a QC in 1996. His areas of specialization had included financial, regulatory and asset forfeiture cases, as well as other criminal matters. Cayman had benefited significantly from his background, she said.

As an acting judge in Cayman since 2013, he had sat largely in the criminal division of the Grand Court, but also presided in the civil and family divisions.

Ms. Richards thanked him for his calm courtesy and the care with which he addressed each matter before him.

Attorney Ben Tonner spoke on behalf of the private bar, with attorney Alice Carver seconding his remarks.

Mr. Tonner said he had spoken with his colleagues about Justice Malcolm as a tribunal and all had agreed he was knowledgeable in law, informed in facts and even-handed in his decision making.

He said Cayman had been fairly lucky in the succession of judges coming here on a temporary or acting basis. He hoped that steady stream of expertise would continue, “but it’s always a shame to lose a good one,” he commented. “Thank you for all you have done in private practise and on the bench.”

Justice Malcolm thanked everyone for their kind and flattering remarks.

He also thanked everyone for coming out “in the monsoon” so late on a Friday when they could be elsewhere.

He said he felt lucky to have practiced here and then to have sat on the bench. He referred to his first trial in Cayman as an advocate; he recited details of the case and recalled that Ms. Richards had been the prosecutor, but he chided himself for not remembering in which courtroom the trial had been held.

He thanked everyone in the justice system who had been so helpful and made him feel welcome, including the court staff and marshals. He made special mention of the court reporters: “It requires only one glance to stop me in my tracks and slow down,” he said.

Justice Malcolm thanked the people working in administration and singled out Suzanne Livingston, personal assistant to Justice Charles Quin, saying she kept the system working smoothly. He joked that one of Ms. Livingston’s last acts on his behalf was to smuggle his wife into the courtroom so that she could witness the farewell session.

He said they will miss Cayman and would not be able to come from the U.K. as often as in the past, “but it will be on our itinerary,” he promised.