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Governor Appoints QCs

Following consultation with the UK Secretary of State, HE the Governor Mr. Stuart Jack, CVO, has appointed five members of the legal fraternity to be Queen's Counsel.

These new 'Silks', as QCs are known informally, are headed on the public side by Solicitor General Cheryll M. Richards, followed by Mr. Langston Sibblies, General Counsel to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and Chairman of the Law Reform Commission.

Other distinguished practitioners taking Silk are Justice Angus Foster, former Partner of Walkers and long-standing senior advocate at the Cayman Bar, and has served for some time as Acting Grand Court Judge; Mr. Kenneth Farrow, senior practitioner, long-standing member of the Bar of England and Wales, formerly Partner at Quin & Hampson and now Counsel at leading firm Mourant du Feu & Jeune; and Mr. Neil Timms, former partner of Maples and Calder, and long-established senior practitioner at the Cayman Bar, more latterly from his own Chambers in George Town.

Effecting the appointments, Governor Jack signed the Warrants of Appointment this week. Following this, in keeping with protocol, the Chief Justice expects to initiate a formal ceremony of admission of the five new Silks to the Inner Bar of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.

Extending his congratulations, Mr. Jack thanked the new Silks for their commitment to the public and noble service that this new honour denotes, and wished them continued success.

The recommendations for these new admissions to the Inner Bar of the Cayman Islands were made by Chief Justice the Hon. Anthony Smellie, following consultation with the other members of the Judiciary. Chief Justice Smellie said these appointments were made "with regard to the needs of the jurisdiction for QCs," noting that there are only two other Silks in active practice in the Cayman Islands. Other holders have either moved out of the jurisdiction, retired, or channelled their service into the local judiciary.

In the modern context, QCs are recognised as the most eminent members of the Bar. The honour is bestowed in line with a 400-year-old tradition originating in the UK but now observed in Commonwealth countries around the world. Historically, Queen's Counsel [known as King's Counsel (KC) during the reign of a male sovereign] are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of "Her (or His) Majesty's Counsel learned in the law".

"The recognition of Queen's Counsel," the Chief Justice said, "comes with an understanding that appointees will do a fair amount of public interest or pro bono work." In its historical conceptualization, in addition to giving counsel to the monarch, it was envisaged that Queen's Counsel's roles would extend to cases involving claims by ordinary people against even the King or Queen of the day, the Chief Justice said, alluding to the public-spirited nature of service expected of QCs.

The Queen's Counsel tradition began, the Chief Justice noted, on the public side of the administration of justice, and, in the UK, where it had its genesis, Attorneys General and Solicitors General of England and Wales are automatically made QCs. This, he said, is by virtue of the fact that the achievement of such status obviously implies eminence in the law.

Solicitor General Richards, who has been practising law since 1986, joined the Turks and Caicos' Attorney General's Chambers in 1993 from her post of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in her native Jamaica. As Senior Crown Counsel she prosecuted cases in the Magistrate, Supreme and Appellate Courts. She was also involved in the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) assistance, extradition, and commercial agreements, and acted as Attorney General of the TCI from time to time.

Ms Richards joined the Chambers of the Attorney General of the Cayman Islands in 1996, serving as Crown Counsel Criminal and later as Senior Crown Counsel International before her appointment as Solicitor General in 2005. As Solicitor General she acts for the Attorney General in his absence and appears in the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal in matters of importance.

Mr. Sibblies has over 34 years' call to the Bar. He has extensive experience practising in a number of Caribbean jurisdictions and in Ontario, Canada, in both the private and public sectors, including a period as Director of Public Prosecutions in Grenada.

Mr. Sibblies came to the Monetary Authority in September 2000 and was appointed Chairman of the Cayman Islands Law Reform Commission in July 2006. He was appointed the first Executive Director of the Secretariat in the Portfolio of Finance in 1999 and has represented the Cayman Islands over the years at such fora as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), and the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD), among others.

On the private side, Justice Foster has had a long-standing record of service as a lawyer. He has been admitted to the Bar in the Cayman Islands for over 28 years and has appeared in many of the most significant cases before the Courts, not only in the Grand Court but also the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council.

Mr. Foster was first called to the Bar in Scotland in 1975, since when he has served as a litigator and advocate. Since his retirement from Walkers two and a half years ago where he was a senior partner and head of litigation, he has been acting as a judge in the Grand Court.

Mr. Foster is joined by Mr. Kenneth Farrow, who was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, London, in 1966, following which he served at the Chancery Bar at what is now Serle Court Chambers, until 1999. During this time he appeared before County Courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords and served as Recorder, hearing civil and criminal cases in County and Crown Courts.

Mr. Farrow was admitted as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands with Quin & Hampson, dealing with corporate, commercial and trust litigation, and corporate (including Cross-Border) insolvency, trusts and probate. He became a Partner at Quin and Hampson in 2004 and Counsel at Morant du Feu & Jeune in 2007.

The final member of the trio on the private side is Mr. Timms, who was called to the Bar in England and Wales in 1974. During his practice in England, Mr. Timms undertook a wide variety of civil litigation and conducted serious and complex criminal cases, both on the prosecution and the defence side.

Mr. Timms was first admitted as a Cayman Islands attorney in 1989, when he was engaged by Maples and Calder for a period of six months. In 1992 he joined Maples and Calder's Litigation Department, becoming one of the firm's two Partners in 1993. He was called to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands in 2004, and retired from Maples in 2005. For the past three years he has been in sole practice as an attorney, largely in the areas of commercial, trust and insolvency referrals. He has also acted as an arbitrator.

For further information contact: Bina Mani