AG’s outside lawyers costly

| 06/08/2014

(CNS): Although both the Attorney General's Chambers and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have an army of lawyers commanding some of the highest salaries in government, the two offices are spending as much as a half million dollars a year instructing overseas counsel. According to a freedom of information request about the travel expenses for both the public prosecutor and government's lawyer and their offices, one of the biggest tabs for both these chambers is the employment of overseas counsel for civil and criminal cases. While the ODPP usually pays legal aid rates when they instruct overseas lawyers for major criminal cases, lawyers instructed by the AG appear to be even more costly to the local taxpayer.

The records show that last year the DPP spent over $170,000 on barristers, usually British, to represent the crown in seven serious prosecutions. Despite the significant salaries of the DPP and her deputy, who are both Queen's Counsel, the office is still spending cash employing costly overseas counsel to lead the crown's cases.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Chambers, which are no longer involved in criminal cases andnow only appear in court in order to defend government, also spent almost $350,000 on overseas lawyers last year to represent the government in civil cases, despite the salaries of both the attorney general and the solicitor general, as well as their collection of well paid lawyers. A previous FOI request recently revealed that the AG earns over $150,000 per annum and the solicitor general between $120,000 and $150,000, with another two lawyers earning over $100,000.

The attorney general took seven overseas trips last year, though the FOI did not specify where or why, spending some $55,000 compared to $28,000 spent on four trips in 2012. However in 2011 the AG took six official overseas trips and spent $65,000.

See details below of DPP and AG's spending on overseas counsel and travel as well as the breakdown of salaries in the AG's office.

Category: FOI

Comments (20)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Kimberly says:

    Travel and the security etc needed as a part of that shouldn’t be blamed upon the AG.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the Fire Chief is not the only one that needs to retire. Whatever it costs it would be money well spent

  3. Anonymous says:

    These costs are nothing compared to the money wasted on pointless appeals from conviction by the found guilty in the Grand Court.  Legal aid should be withdrawn on appeals, and lawyers should only be paid if the appeal is succesful.  Would save a fortune.

  4. Dr. Do Little - Too Late says:

    Oh for the good old days when we had Mr. Vassel handling all our finances, where all moneys requested for any project had to be justifiably necessary before being approved by his office, because he insisted on maintaining a surplus, which could not be touched for any project other than a national emergency! It was a time when we had prudent financial management! Unlike today where everyone who has a portfolio can spend the people's money, seemingly, without any real scrutiny and/or any real accountability! 

    Today one must ask: is there any proof or justification for some of these travel and other expenditures by our leaders? Are these accounts audited on a regular basis by the Auditor General? Remember! Without scrutiny there can be waste, without scrutiny there can be extravagant spending, without scrutiny there can be corruption!

    We constantly hear the "non thinkers" saying things like: Why make such a big deal about this or that! Did not the "Minister for X"  spend much more on their recent travels? This is so asinine! As if there is some justification for someone else being extravagant with our funds because some others have done it.

    We cannot afford to let any department or ministry spend the peoples money without proper scrutinization and proper accounting.  No-one should have the ability to spend our money for travel or anything else when-ever they get the urge. There has to be a more stringent system in place, a system where-by not even the Governor can wastefully spend the peoples money with justification.

    Give someone a job with a title which allows them to control some important segment of a company or government, a job where there's no fear of being fired or impeached! A job with an extravagant salary and little scrutiny, then watch for the abuse of office. We're not suggesting that this is what's happening here, but without proper checks and balances, sooner or later, it can happen!

    What a sad commentary on our Island! We have people starving. People without water. Children with-out lunch money. But we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, on paving private driveways, on so called nation building, and extravagant parties to prove how wealthy we are in the Cayman Islands. But what no-one wants to admit is thatall this high living is being done on a credit card which credit  limit will soon max out and we will need the "Vulture Man" to bail us out.

    STAY TUNED!

      

  5. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line is that it is right that a defendant should be allowed access to top quality defense. If they enage someone who is exceptional then it is the prosecutor's job to  employ equal talent. We simply can't afford to HAve top talent on permanent payroll. That means that we have to be able to hire in specific cighest quality talent on a case by case basis.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Time to shake up the AG's Chambers and DPP office if staff are not performing they must go

  7. Anonymous says:

    At an annual cost of say CI160,000, the pay for the Attorney General is pretty cheap, compared to what local Queen Counsels get paid or charge their clients.

     

    Working a MINIMUM of 40 hours per week = 160 hours per month, for 11 months of the year, with one month vacation, = 1760 hours worked for the year. 160,000 divided by 1760 = 90.90, or 91 dollars per hour.

     

    Do your reasearch and tell me where you will hire a Queen Counsel in Cayman for that amount.

    • Anonymous says:

      The bigger problem is that they keep losing cases that expose Cayman to damages and attorneys fees.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or put another way,

      at an annual cost of CI 160,000 for 1 year of work being equal to 100 paid for dinner parties, 50 handshakes and 10 speeches… truly means CI 160,000 divided by 160 (100+50+10) or $1000 per activity.  Not bad pay considering handshakes and speeches take no effort.  Now, stuffing yourself does take some effort…

      Do your research and tell me where someone will turn up their nose at that amount.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like quite careful costs management on both civil and criminal matters.  The AG and DPP should be congratulated.

  9. Anonymous says:

    SETTLE the cases that Government has no prospect of sucess?? I can think of one sam……

  10. 2008 says:

    What I find interesting is that the AG's travel expenses are similar to those of his staff.  What is striking about that is the AG's staff have taken far more trips than the AG, which can only mean a few things:  1. the AG has more extravagant tastes  2.  the AG's staff are not accorded the same luxuries 3.  the AG eats more

  11. Anonymous says:

    Government has spent more than this just on cruise ship berth surveys alone. With no result

  12. Anonymous says:

    Goodness, that all seems quite reasonable.  I would have expected much higher costs.  Many on island attorneys can bill the AGC's annual costs in two months.

    • 2008 says:

      Goodness gracious, that's not quite reasonable at all.  Why bring in overseas attorneys when you have more than enough on your staff?  The obvious answer to that is that they are not as competent…  So here's an idea, instead of hiring a whole bunch of incompetent ones (many have proven this over and over again), hire a smaller number of competent ones.  Should one expect better?  Of course, but then again, look who is in charge…

      • Anonymous says:

        You obviously have no idea about the costs or expertise involved.

        • Anonymous says:

          And you sound just like Big Mac when he'd try to sell you one of his grand ideas – he knew what he was doing/talking about and others did not.

      • Anonymous says:

        The DPP cases referred to involving mostly UK QC's relate to murder trials, most of which involve the same group of Caymanians as Defendants who all have QC's representing them on our dollar.

        Feel any better now knowing that not only are we payig for the DPP's expertizse, but also these assholes committing all the murders? 

        Who's fault is it again?

        Our own.

        • 2008 says:

          Well here's the thing, not all those accused of something are necessarily guilty.  This is particularly  true in Cayman where the RCIPS are of the same ability level as that of the Keystone Cops, especially when it comes to anything more complex than handing out a jay walking ticket.  Consequently, I believe all defendants should have the best representation possible, especially when it means that they could be spending 30 years in jail. If you were to kill someone in self-defense you would want the best representation possible – and don't think that you would not get charged.  In most cases of self-defense, people are charged.  Or what happened if you ran over someone because they darted in front of your car.  Again, there is a possiblilty that you may get charged, especially if there are no witnesses, etc.  And, again, you'd better have good representation.  My question/comment had more to do with the expenses relating to the Chamber of the Attorney General, not so much those of the Office of the DPP.

  13. Anonymous says:

    These fees seem quite reasonable.