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Attorney General Speech

Samuel Bulgin, QC, JP
Hon. Attorney General

Speech By the Hon. Attorney General on the Opening of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands for the 2009 Session

My Lord Chief Justice, Judges of the Grand Court, distinguished guests, Colleagues at the Bar, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am pleased to rise to move a motion for the opening of the Grand Court for the 2009 session. With your Lordships' leave I propose in doing so to make a few observations.

My Lords, May I take this opportunity to welcome my Lord Quinn to the Bench for what will be his first full year as a Judge in these Islands. It is already very clear that in terms of the work load, he has been a welcome and much needed addition to the numbers.

2008 can only be described as a daunting year for the legal profession in the Cayman Islands. A year in which there was more than the usual share of challenges. Fortunately we were more than able to rise to each challenge and to dispassionately and calmly meet matters head on.

My Lords, 2008 was characterized by continued good work, co-operation and endeavour in a number of areas by stakeholders in the legal arena and significant further progress towards systemic improvements.

On the Legislative front, I am pleased to report in a bid to give effect to the Government's various policy initiatives, that the Legislative Drafting Department had a very active year and with the cooperation and involvement of members of the legal profession, associations and the general public a number of important pieces of legislation were progressed. We are grateful for the assistance of all those who participated in the consultation process with respect to the very many pieces of legislation which were considered throughout the year, including the Tobacco Law, 2008 which regulates the labeling, promotion, sale and distribution of tobacco products.

Of note are the:

Anti Corruption Law

This gives effect in the Cayman Islands to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Law will establish an Anti Corruption Commission and create new offences such as frauds on Government, influence peddling and secret commissions. The plan is that following a series of workshops and seminars scheduled for later this month and early February to further sensitise public officers and others including those who serve on statutory authorities, the commencement date for the laws will be gazetted.

The Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law:

This repeals and replace the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law (2007 Revision); consolidates and harmonizes the various money laundering and confiscation regimes which existed as well as enhances the laws relating to the confiscation of the proceeds of crime and the laws relating to mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. This new law is now in effect.

Additionally, a heavy legislative drafting programme is being prepared for the year 2009 in order to give effect to various proposals of the Government.

Some of the proposals to be implemented by legislative measures include-

  1. The criminalisation of discrimination in connection with employment and the provision of goods.
  2. Better regulation of the adoption of children.
  3. Revision of the law relating to education.
  4. Clarifying the law relating to the criminalisation of child pornography.
  5. Introducing legislation in respect of miscellaneous financial matters, with a view to securing the position of the Cayman Islands as a top off-shore investment jurisdiction.
  6. Reviewing legislation with respect to parole matters.
  7. Improving the administration of the prisons.
  8. Also legislation aimed at establishing an office of disaster preparedness and emergency management will be in place to cope with emergency situations affecting the Cayman Islands.

And finally on this topic we continue to consider the suggested changes to the Legal Practitioners Law. It is an extremely deliberative issue but we are very hopeful.

During 2008, the Law Reform Commission completed work on the Legal Aid Report which was laid for public consultation in September. Members of the Public have until the 15th January to submit comments. The Commission also concluded consultation work on the Residential Tenancies Bill and has now submitted its final report. This is to be considered by Cabinet shortly.

The Commission continues to be at the forefront of change and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman and members as well as the staff of the Commission for their continued good work in the area of law reform.

The Law School under the guidance of the Legal Advisory Council with the full support of Government, continued its work in preparing students for the Legal profession and in 2008, had the largest graduating class since its inception of 31 students including professional practice course students.

On the crime front, we note the continued extensive work of the Police in meeting the many challenging situations over the past year. In so doing I take this opportunity to welcome the new Acting Commissioner James Smith to the post and to extend to him our good wishes for a smooth transition. Our gratitude also to the former Acting Commissioner of Police Mr. David George for his temporary stewardship up until recently.

I also take this opportunity to commend the Commissioner and his team of Officers for their strenuous efforts in fighting crime and overseeing law and order.

We note that with the appointment of the Chief Magistrate, there has been a sustained endeavour to bring change to the summary court system with the introduction of Tuesday Mention courts and thus trial courts on three week days. While this is still in the pilot stage we note this has already resulted in less of a wait for witnesses who attend court and a speedier disposal of matters. We are also heartened to see that with respect to the ongoing problem with having Summons served on witnesses and timely returns made to the courts that witnesses are being served in a more efficient manner than previously and that there are indications of improvement on this front.

We recognise that while change is underway in some areas, there are still steps which need to be taken towards full implementation of others in 2009.

My Lords, on the Personnel side, I am pleased to say that the Legal Portfolio remained constant throughout last year in all departments.

My Lords there remains only for me to reiterate the continued commitment of the Government in ensuring the required resources for the smooth administration of Justice, and of the Chambers to providing quality service and our assistance in whatever way we can to facilitate the efficient conduct of the business of these Courts and in moving the motion for the opening of the Grand Court 2009 to wish for your Lordships, Magistrates, Court Staff, and all here present, a prosperous and productive New Year.

I now formally move the motion for the opening of the Grand Court for the year 2009. May it so please you my Lords.

Samuel Bulgin, QC, JP

Hon. Attorney General

For further information contact: Bina Mani