May 25, 2023

CARICOM Judiciary Heads meet in the Cayman Islands

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Participants left to right: President Adrian Saunders, Caribbean Court of Justice; Justice Michelle Arana Acting, CJ Belize; Justice Narinder Hargun, CJ Bermuda; Sir Patterson Cheltenham, CJ Barbados;  Sir Anthony Smellie, CJ Cayman Islands, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Acting Chancellor of the High Court of Guyana; Justice Ian Winder, CJ (designate) Bahamas; Justice Mabel Agyemang, CJ Turks and Caicos Islands; Justice Ivor Archie, CJ Trinidad and Tobago; and Justice Bryan Sykes, CJ Jamaica

Grand Cayman, 29 July 2022 – Ten heads of judiciaries from across the CARICOM participated in the two-day biennial conference held in Grand Cayman at the Ritz Carlton, Thursday, 28 and Friday, 29 July 2022.

 Hosted for the second time in the Cayman Islands by Chief Justice, Hon. Sir Antony Smellie, KCMG, QC, (the first was in 2007), the justices deliberated on the theme “Administering Justice by Use of Information Technology: Building on COVID-19 Experiences” over the two day.

At Thursday’s opening ceremony, Sir Anthony explained that the conference aims to promote fellowship, understanding and functional cooperation for administration of justice within CARICOM states. Additionally, attendees will also examine and find solutions for judicial problems as well as help promote the development of Caribbean jurisprudence, he elaborated.

He continued that the meeting’s theme recognises “the need to respond to the challenges of the times while improving our ability to provide timely and effective access to justice.”

In his remarks, the Premier, Hon. G. Wayne Panton, JP, MP, welcomed the gathering, notably the visiting Heads of Judiciaries. 

The Premier affirmed that the Executive and legislature arms of government were fully committed to respecting and protecting the inviolable independence enjoyed by the Judiciary in the Cayman Islands as enshrined in the CI Constitution.

He also noted that public confidence in the judiciary comes from both the actual and perceived access to the courts and grounded in the perception that “justice is being meted out without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and regardless of one’s place in society”. 

He added, “The conference agenda shows that you are focused on the sustained advancement of the efficiency of the administration of justice, its accessibility to all sectors of society, and enhancing the professionalism and well-being of the judiciary.”

Welcoming the gathering, His Excellency the Acting Governor, Mr. Franz Manderson, OBE, Cert. Hon., JP said, “I am inspired by the local, regional, and worldwide respect that the large local and regional representation gathered here this morning commands for their independence, courage, and competence.”

 Highlighting the importance of the CARICOM meetings, the Acting Governor noted that the benefits to regional judges, magistrates, registrars and executive court from the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO), a direct outcome of the past meeting held in the Cayman Islands in 2007.

 Additionally, noting the Cayman Islands judiciary’s emphasis on the use of technology in dispensing justice, Mr. Manderson lauded the achievement of the Criminal divisions of both the Summary and Grand Courts ending 2021 with virtually no backlogs.

He also praised the Cayman court’s e-filing and e-payments platforms, launched in 2021 in the Financial Services and General Civil divisions and now being completed in all divisions. The Acting Governor also commended the inspiring leadership of the Chief Justice Sir Anthony over 29 years as a judge, with over 24 of those as Chief Justice.

Emceed by Truman Bodden Law School Director Mr. Mitchell Davies, the opening ceremony also featured the National Anthem led by Mr. Arek Nicholson, the National Song led by Ms Karen Edie, a Cayman cultural musical medley by Swanky Kitchen Band and prayer led by Rev. Dr. Yvette Noble-Bloomfield.

 Conference attendees were: Hon. Justices Ivor Archie – Chief Justice (CJ) of Trinidad and Tobago; Mabel Agyemang, CJ Turks and Caicos Islands; Michelle Arana – Acting CJ Belize; Sir Patterson Cheltenham, KA – CJ Barbados; Yonette Cummings-Edwards – Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana; Narinder Hargun, CJ- Bermuda; Adrian Saunders, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice; Bryan Sykes, OJ – CJ Jamaica (arriving Thursday afternoon); Ian Winder – CJ Designated Bahamas and Sir Anthony – CJ Cayman Islands.

Unable to attend were Hon. Justices Dame Janice M. Pereira – CJ Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and outgoing conference chair; Mr. Iwan Rasoelbaks – President of Court of Justice, Suriname; and President the Hon. Mauritsz J. de Kort – CJ the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

The nine-member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS): Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were members of the conference. Although not present because Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira could not attend, they will have the deliberations fully shared with her on their behalf.

Their interests will be represented during the deliberations and the conference outcome will be shared with Dame Janice; as well as the 15 CARICOM member states and the five CARICOM associate member states, according to the CI Judiciary.

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