OCC releases new small claims guide

| 29/04/2015 | 10 Comments
Cayman News Service

Attorney Brett Basdeo hands over the updated Small Claims Handbook to Acting Complaints Commissioner Bridgette Von Gerhardt

(CNS): In an effort to help the man on the street to take legal action even when does not have the cash for an attorney, the Office of the Complaints Commissioner has published its fifth updated and expanded edition of the “Small Claims Handbook”. The guide, which was written by attorney Brett Basdeo, is free of charge and is designed to guide ordinary people through the requirements to take legal action in small civil disputes.

Officials said the handbook provides easy to understand explanations and instructions, drawn from the Summary Court Rules 2004.  It also includes the court forms that must be completed and submitted to take legal action.

“The handbook is meant to assist the general public in pursuing legal remedy through the Summary Court of the Cayman Islands,” Basdeo said. “It allows the man on the street to take legal action or defend small claims on his own.”

Acting Complaints Commissioner Bridgette Von Gerhardt said the handbook continues to be in demand by clients of her office.

“The Complaints Commission used to get at least three requests a week for the handbook, exclusive of online downloads,” she said. “This edition will help to meet that demand, and we thank Maples and Calder and Mr Basdeo for doing such a thorough and professional job.”

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who wrote the foreword for the guide, described it as an extremely useful tool that provides the lay person with a “viable and satisfactory alternatives to retaining counsel, where they are unable to be represented by an attorney at their own cost or through Legal Aid”.

The fifth edition features:

  • Simplified legal terms and definitions;
  • Reorganised linear structure to mirror the various stages of proceeding;
  • Better guidance for both the plaintiff (the one who brings the case) and defendant (the one against whom the case is brought);
  • Expanded guidance on limitation periods and on completing court forms;
  • Updated sample forms and
  • An enlarged section on the appeals process.

The handbook is available on the OCC website and on Cayman Islands Judicial and Legal Information website

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Category: Courts

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Now something needs to be done about the time it takes for cases to be called. As well as stopping defendants from leaving the island never to be heard from again. Perhaps have them deposit the full claim plus 20%. Should they not show up when the case is called, automatic judgement against them for the full value plus court costs. The gov’t keeps the difference. This should help with caseloads and generate some government funds.

  2. Concerned says:

    And please remember that as a student Mr. Basdeo worked at the OCC. Great work Brett. And thank you to Maples and Calder for allowing Mr. Basdeo to do this work pro bono when we know that the firm could be billing his hours to paying clients.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Based on what happens regularly in the UK’s County Courts the problem with a ‘small claims’ track is that the defendant just gets lawyered up and short-cuts the claims process by hitting a self-represented claimant with an application to strike the claim or plaint out. At that point the lawyers also hit the claimant with a punative bill for costs. In the UK I’ve seen GBP(£)3000 (roughly CI$3750) billed for ‘work done’ before the application even got to court even though the disputed sum was just GBP(£)450.

    When (or more accurately ‘if’ because this is a scare tactic) it gets to court the defendant’s lawyers then argue legal technicalities rather than the claim itself. In doing so they avoid discovery and all the other normal pre-requisites thus keeping the real issues out of court.

    You can issue all the guides you like but the bottom line is that for a small claims process to work the legal profession needs to be made to respect it rather than just using it as an excuse to find ways to make money out of it,

  4. Anonymous says:

    Small Claims limit should be raised from KYD$20,000 to $50k or higher. The bulk of Cayman’s classic screw jobs are between $20k and $100k. Barriers to initiating a Grant Court action are significant, thus much criminal intent goes unanswered in this land. Our consumers are left to be preyed upon by serial and institutionalised banditry.

  5. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Basdeo for ‘updating and editing’ the Handbook, I think CNS and or the OCC should give credit to the Caymanians and the OCC themselves for having completed this handbook years ago.

    I have no interest in neither only praising initial writers nor undermining efforts by Mr Basdeo, but he does represent a law firm and they are getting a LOT of thanks & appreciation for the handwork of others.

    Again, this is the FIFTH edition so clearly Mr. Basdeo did not write the handbook, which I have personally used as reference on many occasions and to the best of my recollection was FIRST completed by a young Caymanian lady who was training to become a lawyer at the time and staff of OCC.

    I have not contacted the OCC or anyone but just find it somewhat hypocritical at best (lawyers should understand the repercussions of passing off or using work by others without proper recognition) IF we have a law firm taking full credit for writing versus updating this handbook, which was well written and helpful.

    Please give credit where credit is due

    • Anonymous says:

      Again I stand to be corrected as to information regarding Basdeo’s prior involvement with the writing and if he did in fact write the first edition, I am the first to retract my above statements and give full credit. I am going to best of my knowledge about original authors. Would like clarifications, if possible.

      • Anonymous says:

        Petula Twinn wrote the first edition of the handbook. However, if you compare the third and fourth (and now fifth) editions of the handbook, you will see that it was completely rewritten by Mr. Basdeo, so he is certainly not “passing off work” by others as his own. Nevertheless, Mr. Basdeo was the first to acknowledge the efforts of Ms. Twinn and the OCC, both publicly in his speech at the launch of the fifth edition of the handbook and in original written statements. Keep in mind that press releases are often rewritten by news outlets, and sometimes quotes and other information are omitted. Radio Cayman’s website includes the original release, containing further acknowledgements by Mr. Basdeo.

        I don’t see how a single mention of Maples and Calder in this write-up leads to the belief that they are “getting a LOT of thanks & appreciation”, however once you have read the original release on Radio Cayman’s website, you will see that one of their employees is credited for the new (and improved) design and layout, hence the recognition. It should be noted that both the fourth and fifth editions of the handbook were personal undertakings by Mr. Basdeo.

        Finally, and not that it should matter, but your comment suggests that Caymanians are not receiving credit. Mr. Basdeo is himself a Caymanian.

        • Anonymous says:

          thanks for the clarification…

        • Anonymous says:

          ‘in original written statements’ but is her name in the book?

          normally the original writer would still be in the editions and the editor aka Basdeo for example would be listed as such, i.e. co-writer/editor……but point taken, photo ops are everything in Cayman so many times the work of others are not included, even if he had done so.

          Yes we do know he’s a Caymanian, and lawyer with that firm for a while.

          Speaking of photo ops, hopefully this re-written book, re-edited revamped or whatever, is not the highlight of the firm’s training programme for a Caymanian attorney of several years PQE.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Small Claims financial threshold should be raised to KYD$50k or higher.

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