Acting magistrates missing criminal experience

| 13/07/2020 | 20 Comments
Cayman News Service
David McGrath

(CNS): Based on recommendations by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Governor Martyn Roper has appointed three lawyers as acting magistrates with the aim of helping address the growing caseload in the Summary Court. Vanessa Allard has significant family law experience, while Robert Jones and David McGrath are veteran litigators with considerable civil experience, but there are no criminal experts among the new line-up.

The caseloads in the Cayman Islands Summary Court are fuelled largely by traffic and criminal cases, which have been compounded by the current global health pandemic. The acting appointments are a response to the need for more hands on deck, the governor has said, despite the lack of criminal experience among the three new magistrates.

Thanking them for stepping forward during a time of need, allowing for the administration of justice to continue, the governor said it was another example of how the Cayman Islands has demonstrated a robust approach to dealing with consequences of a global health pandemic.

“The appointment of Acting Magistrates Allard, Jones, and McGrath has served to continue to strengthen the Cayman Islands Judiciary particularly during this difficult time,” Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said. “They are each highly respected in their relevant areas of practice and the Judiciary looks forward to benefiting from their legal qualifications, skills and experiences.”

Vanessa Allard has over 20 years experience as a litigator and is a an active member of the Family Law Bar. She has also served as a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee and has served in numerous volunteer roles, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Legal Befrienders.

Robert Jones is a commercial litigator who has over 20 years advocacy experience here dealing with immigration and planning cases. Since 2012 he has sat as Chair of the Cayman Islands Labour Tribunal and he is currently a member of the Chairmanship panel of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants (CIIPA).

David McGrath, whose firm, McGrath Tonner, does do considerable criminal work, has spent much of his time in the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal dealing with domestic litigation, ancillary relief proceedings in high net worth matrimonial finance, offshore trusts and private client work.

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Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe decriminalize cannabis an half of the court cases would disappear, but then police would actually have to do real work

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just hope they are serious about the crime problem and lax sentencing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have a problem with these folks getting these positions but I would really like to see some of the Caymanians that have the qualifications being offered these positions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Pandemic (which Cayman never had) related cases should be abolished.

    Physical abuse of women and workplace assault cases must be sped up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is no ground for criticism here in principle. As someone who has appeared before the Civil Summary Courts but not the Criminal, these appointments were very much needed. It is hard for the Acting Magistrates and Magistrates who mostly deal with criminal matters to adopt an appropriate approach to Civil matters. Ms. Allard I personally do not think should have been appointed unless she will be limited to family matters but the other two are good choices. Even then… she needs training if she’s going to judge, while I respect her ability as an advocate.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We need magistrates with this type of experience regulate the whacky private sector.

    When is the private sector coming back to work. The banks are a disaster.

    • Anonymous says:

      We never stopped working in the Financial Services, private sector. Don’t worry, we’ll still be around paying the fees to CIMA, ROC and every other new “authority” they set up, so CIG can pay your guys’ salary in the CIG and its “civil” and public service.

      Any chance of civil/public service reform now, before the great recession arrives?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Silly idea: why don’t we sort out simple traffic issues administratively? I really don’t see a point of going in front of a judge for a fender-bender, rolling through a stop sign, etc.
    This seems a great way to keep the civil service nice and bloated and ensure an even greater government deficit.


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