Complaints Commissioner re-joins private sector

| 27/05/2009

(CNS): Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp, who announced in September 2008 that he would not accept reappointment as the Cayman Islands’ ombudsman when his five-year term expired in mid-July, will be re-joining the private sector as a litigation lawyer with local law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman. The complaints commissioner is appointed by the governor and answers only to the Legislative Assembly as a whole through the Speaker. There has been no word yet from the Governor’s Office on Epp’s replacement.

As the first person to hold the position of an ombudsman in the Cayman Islands, Epp established the Office of Complaints Commissioner (OCC), as well as interpreting and applying the Complaints Commissioner Law and relevant laws of the Cayman Islands. He also assisted in writing Regulations made to clarify certain matters under the Complaints Commissioner Law (2006 Revision).

Over the past four years, the OCC team has completed ten Own Motion Investigations (which are instigated by the Commissioner in the public interest), eight Special Reports and more than 150 investigations arising from suitable written complaints from residents of the Cayman Islands. His notable investigations and reports included: Sunrise Adult Training Centre: Does the government provide adequate day-care facilities and education for adults who are mentally and physically disabled?; Allegations against Cayman Airways in the wake of hurricane Dean; and Cayman Turtle Farm and Waste Discharge into the Marine Environment. Moreover, the auditor general cited the OCC as one of the few government departments that produces financial statements on time.

“Our goal of establishing a fully functioning office with appropriate systems was met, but this office constantly strives for improvement. In order to better equip our team, we participated in several training programmes, such as the one provided by the Canada’s leading Ombudsman, the Ombudsman of Ontario,” said Epp said when announcing his departure from the office.

Commenting on his move back into the private sector, Epp said, “I am impressed with the high standard of expertise that Conyers provides and by the firm’s track record of providing expert advice on Cayman Islands Law. I look forward to bringing my experience to bear on Conyers’ Cayman litigation practice and delivering the high standards that our clients expect.”

Richard Finlay, Managing Partner of the Conyers Cayman Islands office, said, “We continue to grow our Cayman Islands practice and have trebled the number of lawyers in our litigation department since its inception two years ago. John has established advocacy experience and has demonstrated his independence and tenacity during his tenure as Complaints Commissioner. He brings a wealth of valuable experience to the litigation team which will add significant value to clients and we are proud to welcome him to our team.”

Nigel Meeson QC, Head Litigation and Restructuring in the Cayman Islands Litigation commented, “The current economic climate has driven an increased demand for litigation services, a trend which is likely to continue. As clients look to firms with superior strength and depth of expertise, our reputation for delivering timely, responsive and thorough advice has seen our litigation practice gain continued momentum. The addition of John to the team will enable us to further expand our reach in the Cayman Islands.”

Prior to his appointment as complaints commissioner, Epp was Senior Tutor and Deputy Director at the Cayman Islands Law School. He started his legal career in Saskatchewan, Canada where he practised as a civil litigation specialist, a position which left him with considerable trial and appellate advocacy experience.

Epp holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Comparative Jurisprudence from the University of Texas, a PhD in Law from the University of Liverpool and a National Institute of Trial Advocates Teaching Certification. He was admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in 1983 and as an attorney at law in the Cayman Islands in 2004.

Epp taught Trial Skills at Hofstra University, New York, Nova South Eastern Law School, Florida and Advanced Tort Law at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He authored numerous articles and commentaries published in leading journals such as the Law Quarterly Review,Modern Law Review, Journal of Business Law and the Canadian Bar Review. He is the author of the book titled Building on the Decade of Disclosure in Criminal Procedure (2001). He served as Chairman of the Access to Justice Committee of the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations and he is also is a Charter member of Habitat for Humanity in the Cayman Islands and a Charter member of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman – Sunrise.

 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good luck, Dr Epp. You angered a lot of people which means you did your job well and really established the post of Complaints Commissioner.