October 22, 2017

A Tribute to the Life of Chief Justice Kipling Ernest Douglas

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A Tribute to the Life of

Chief Justice Kipling Ernest Douglas

June 1930- June 2017

By

The Chief Justice of the

The Honurable Chief Justice Anthony Smellie Q.C.

We are saddened at the passing of our colleague and friend Kipling Douglas. We wish to take a moment, publicly, to pay a tribute in recognition especially of his service to the Cayman Islands.

lived a long and admirably fruitful and productive life.

He started professional life as a civil servant in Jamaica where he worked for three years before going to England in 1951 to study journalism. He worked in England until 1954 when he returned to Jamaica where he worked with the Daily Gleaner until 1956. He then next served as editor of the West Indian Law Magazine and as assistant News Editor at Radio Jamaica.

He returned to England in 1957 and while working at the London City Council he studied Latin which was in those days a requirement for matriculation to study law. He registered at Middle Temple in 1960 to study law and was called to the bar there in 1963.

He had by that time been married to his wife Leslie for some four years and they, and their first child Mark, returned to Jamaica in 1964 where lawyer Douglas entered private practice.

Over the course of the ensuing twenty years, he practiced law in Jamaica and became Resident Magistrate for a number of parishes, most latterly, the Resident Magistrate for Hanover, based in the parish capital Lucea.

He is most fondly remembered there by the nick name “clip–wing Douglas” for the sharp but firm and appropriate sentences he imposed, frequently accompanied by wise and witty words of advice.

On 1 May 1983, he was appointed Magistrate of the Summary Court in the Cayman Islands and in 1988 he was appointed as the Islands’ first Chief Magistrate.

While in that post he was appointed from time to time to act as a judge of the Grand Court and on occasion as , in the absence of then Chief Justice, Sir John Summerfield.

In 1993 Justice Douglas was appointed Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands in which post he served for three years until retirement in 1996.

But as a consummate lawyer and judge, he was not given to full retirement and so from time to time accepted appointments as acting judge of the Grand Court until 2004 when he finally left judicial life to accept appointment as legal advisor to the newly established Financial Reporting Authority, within the Attorney General’s Office.

As a final crowning achievement of a long and distinguished career, a legal report carried this caption about Justice Douglas in June 2011: “Legal Heavyweight Leads New Cayman Firm”.

It announced his appointment with attorney Janet Francis to head SmeetsLaw (Cayman), a member of the GCA Smeets Law Network, which was then made up of independently-run firms in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.

Notwithstanding his many successes as a lawyer and his lasting contributions as a Magistrate and Judge, Kipling Douglas is reported as saying that his crowning achievement within the legal fraternity was his election to the Executive Council of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association(CMJA) in 1985, were he served until 2016, firstly as Regional Vice President and then as President from 1994-1997. He was then in 1997, appointed as Honorary Life Vice President.

Justice Douglas’ judicial career is possibly best encapsulated in his own words penned in his book “The Courtroom, the Poor Man’s Theatre” in which he shares a collection of anecdotes spanning his 37 years in the courtroom.

Still many others will remember him for his elegant and informative travel articles which he published from time to time in the local press.

Among his colleagues and friends within the judiciary and legal fraternity of the Cayman Islands, Justice Douglas will always be remembered most fondly for his insightfulness, his wonderful wit and sense of humour and all in all, as a very fine gentleman.

Our condolences go out to his wife Leslie, his children Mark and Elizabeth, grandchildren, his brother Lawson and extended family.

May his soul rest in peace.

END

Kipling Ernest Douglas passed away in at the age of 86.

IMAGE: Honurable Chief Justice Anthony Smellie

 

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Comments

  1. Chris Johnson says:

    The late Kipling Douglas was one of life’s characters , a learned man who shared his wit and stories with all. I recall being in chambers with him and a new , rather nervous lawyer who represented my firm in an insolvency matter. I pointed out to my lawyer that I had never appeared before him. For the first ten minutes Kipling wanted to know about my car, a Morgan, whilst we then discussed his Morris Minor which he was so proud of. Five minutes was discussing cricket and his nephew Geoffrey Dijon who played for the West Indies. We then proceeded with the hearing and the matter proceeded smoothly and timely.
    After court my lawyer naturally queried my knowledge of the judge. I explained that I had exchanged pleasantries with him on many occasions although never having appeared before him.
    He will be sorely missed by us all.

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  1. […] Source: Cayman Eye News A Tribute to the Life of Chief Justice Kipling Ernest Douglas June 1930- June 2017 By The Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands The Honurable Chief Justice Anthony Smellie Q.C. We are saddened at the passing of our colleague and friend Kipling Douglas. We wish to take a moment, publicly,… Link: A Tribute to the Life of Chief Justice Kipling Ernest Douglas […]

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