Tributes paid in death of Cayman’s former AG

| 24/02/2014

Cayman Islands(CNS): Sir Richard Ground, a member of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and a former local attorney, died this weekend at his home in Derbyshire in the UK. The former Bermudan and Turks and Caicos chief justice died on Saturday 22 February after a short illness, aged 64. Across the Cayman Islands tributes were paid to the regional legal heavyweight, who began his legal career in the region and in the Cayman Islands in the attorney general’s office as crown counsel under the then attorney general Michael Bradley. Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin expressed his condolences to Sir Richard’s wife, Dace, and his family on their great loss

“I have known Sir Richard Ground for more than thirty years and am saddened to learn of his passing. He was an outstanding lawyer and a fine jurist and will be greatly missed,” said McLaughlin, paying one of many tributes from around the region.

Sir Richard Ground was born on 17 December 1949 in Stamford, England, and educated at Oakham School in Rutland; Lincoln College, Oxford; and the Inns of Court School of Law. He won an open scholarship to Oxford in 1967 and the Violet Vaughan-Morgan University Prize for literature in 1968. He graduated with a BA Hons in English Language and Literature in 1970. He was called to the Bar, in Gray’s Inn, in 1975; was appointed Queens Counsel (Cayman Islands) in 1987; and was elected a Bencher of his Inn in 2011. 

He began his legal career in private practice at 1 Brick Court, Middle Temple, where he specialized in media law, 1976-83. He left London in 1983 for the Cayman Islands where he served as crown counsel under HM Attorney General Michael Bradley. When Bradley was made Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1987, Governor Peter Lloyd appointed Sir Richard to be Cayman's attorney general in his place. He served in that post until 1992.

Sir Richard met andmarried his wife Dace in Cayman in 1986. She was government's marine parks coordinator at the time, and they met while developing the Marine Parks Regulations. Richard was a keen diver and enthusiastic underwater photographer, but then discovered the amazing wildlife of Cayman above water, and never looked back. He published his first book of wildlife photographs in 1989, titled "Creator's Glory" in reference to the National Song, which he loved.

He was appointed Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Bermuda, serving from 1992 to 1998. His next career move took him to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where he was Chief Justice 1998-2004.  He continued his love of wildlife photography, publishing his second book in 2001, "The Birds of the Turks and Caicos Islands". His photographs have been published in numerous magazines, such as WildBird, Bermuda Magazine, the Times of the Islands and The Bermudian.

In 2004 Sir Richard returned to Bermuda, when he was appointed chief justice. He served in this position for eight years, retiring in 2012.

In other legal appointments, he had begun serving as justice of the Court of Appeal for Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005, and was appointed to the Court of Appeal in the Cayman Islands in 2012. Effective 1 January 2013, he was appointed to sit on the Bermuda Court of Appeal but his illness overtook him before he could attend his first session.

Sir Richard and Lady Ground loved their years in Cayman. After working on the Marine Parks, Lady Ground went on to become the founding Executive Director of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, and Sir Richard worked enthusiastically to ensure the success of that organisation. They were delighted when Sir Richard was appointed to the Cayman Court of Appeal, as it allowed them to return to the islands they love.

"Sir Richard's availability to sit as a Judge in the Court of Appeal was tragically curtailed by the onset of the illness which led to his death,” Sir John Chadwick, President of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal said. “But he demonstrated, in the course of the session for which he was able to sit, both his outstanding quality as a judge and that the contribution that he would have made to its work in future years would have been immense. He was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and will be sorely missed." 

Adding his comments on behalf of the Cayman Judiciary, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, QC, noted his own long association with Sir Richard, going back to their work as colleagues within the Attorney General’s Department in the early 1980s.

“As Crown Counsel and later as Attorney General, Sir Richard made a very significant contribution to the development of the laws and administration of government in the Cayman Islands. His contributions to the administration of justice as Chief Justice and as a judge in Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands is well known and appreciated throughout the Caribbean region and Sir Richard enjoyed the respect of his fellow judges and Chief Justices from aroundthe Region, and indeed of those many colleagues from around the Commonwealth who came to know him.

“The Cayman judiciary and the local profession were very much looking forward to his time on the Court of Appeal here and are deeply saddened by his passing.”

At the opening of the Courts on Monday the judiciary will observe a public moment of silence in remembrance of Sir Richard.

“It is with great sadness that I received the news of Sir Richard’s passing. During the time I served with him on the Cayman Islands Judicial and Legal Services Commission I found him to be a man of passion, integrity and humility. His love of life and passion for the law was portrayed in all that he said and did. He will be missed but his legacy will live on,” added Dan Scott, Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin added his condolences to Lady Ground and their family.  “The untimely passing of Sir Richard is unquestionably a terrible loss to the Cayman legal fraternity of which he was an invaluable and admirable member. We are profoundly saddened by his passing. He had a stellar legal career in the Cayman Islands as well as in some of the other UK Overseas Territories including his tenure as Attorney General of the Cayman Islands and more recently his appointment to our Court of Appeal,” he added.

Sir Richard was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 1991 for his services as Attorney General in Cayman, and was made a Knight Bachelor in the Birthday Honours list 2012 for his services to justice in Bermuda.

“I was sorry to hear of the passing of Sir Richard, who gave so much to the Cayman Islands. He will be missed. My thoughts are with Sir Richard’s family at this sad time,” said Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    May his soul rest in peace.  Richard Ground was a good man and an excellent AG who contributed much to the Cayman Islands.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr Nical Carter, former teacher well known to and liked by many Caymanian and expat schoolchildren also passed away last week. RIP.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for reporting Mr. Carter's death as well. So sorry.  May he rest in peace.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So sorry to hear of Richards death. A lovely man. Will Dace be returning to Cayman where she has many great friends? May his soul rest in peace.

  4. Anonymous says:

    May he rest in peace.