Appeal court delays undermining justice

| 16/01/2015 | 0 Comments

Colin McKie QC Photo by Jaida Alexander(CNS): Colin McKie QC has criticised the Cayman Island Appeal Court over the ongoing lengthy delays in judgements. The editor of the Law Reports said some important judgements had been delayed for years, even though the appeal hearings were short. He warned that public confidence in the justice system was at risk because of the length of time parties are waiting for decisions.

Speaking at the opening of the Grand Court, McKie said he hoped the recently announced appointments to the higher court would help because it was clear something was very wrong. While he commended the Grand Court for issuing judgments in a short time, he said there was one outstanding commercial appeal with “an astonishing delay of almost three years”.

He also pointed to the appeal court’s delay in the delivery of its decision in the crown’s appeal regarding the acquittal of Devon Anglin, who was accused of killing a 5-year-old child, which was delayed for almost 18 months. “This attracted considerable adverse publicity,” McKie told the court in his presentation. In a family case judgment on ancillary relief the judgement was delivered 15 months after the appeal, and in another civil case a decision on costs has been outstanding for almost two years.

“There are many other examples where the delay is, or has been, measured in years in respect of appeals that lasted merely a day or two. Something is clearly wrong, and public confidence in the administration justice by the whole of our courts is at risk of being undermined,” he warned.

As Consultant Editor of the Law Reports, Mckie is able to analyse the case going through the courts collectively and identify worrying trends earlier than others involved in the criminal and civil justice systems or policy makers.

He noted that during 2014 the court’s Civil Division had its fair share of proceedings arising out of the local consequences of the prevailing economic conditions, in particular the number of defaults on mortgages which he warned remains very high.

He also stated that the number of cases concerning the possession of firearms, robberies as well as fraud and other dishonesty offences against employers were also very high. In addition, McKie warned that serious traffic offences, including causing death by dangerous driving, remained a problem.

Mckie’s indication from the evidence of the judgements that the number of firearms offences remain very high is in contrast to the Attorney General position. Samuel Bulgin has lauded the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offences as having addressed the problem, a point that clearly flies in the face of the evidence documented in the law reports.

See all the speeches from the Grand Court Opening

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