Costs to soar on Levers case

| 23/08/2009

(CNS): The referral to the Privy Council of the Justice Priya Levers case could add as much as $2 million to the overall total cost, estimated already be in the region of $3 million, all of which will come from the cash strapped Cayman purse. CNS understands from legal experts that although the Privy Council will not hear from witnesses when they take up the case, it will hear from both Justice Levers’ legal team and the legal representatives of the tribunal. So far all of Justice Levers’ costs and those incurred by the tribunal itself, as well as the various other legal teams provided for the judicial services, the prosecution services and the chief justice, have been paid for by the CI government.

Justice Levers has also remained on full pay since she was suspended from the Grand Court bench in September 2008. The next round could see the legal costs involved soar even further as both legal teams will be able to present their entire cases again to the UK’s highest court when the Privy Council considers the case in London.

CNS contacted Justice Levers for comment on the tribunal’s recommendation and the forthcoming Privy Council hearing but the judge was unavailable. It is understood, however, that her lead counsel Stanley Brodie QC will be representing her in London.

On Thursday, 20 August, the Governor’s Office announced that it had received the report from the tribunal, which was chaired by Sir Andrew Leggatt and heard Justice Levers’ case in May of this year. The governor stated that, as the case was going on to the Privy Council, the report would not be made public.

However, CNS understands that the tribunal did not find against Justice Levers in regards to the majority of the complaints, so it is by no means certain that the Grand Court Judge will be taken off the bench. Her legal team will be given the opportunity to present their case to the Privy Council with regards to the recommendations made by the tribunal in its report.

During the tribunal it was revealed that the inquiry against Justice Levers was triggered when it was suspected by the chief justice that she had written letters under a pseudonym to the local press, that she had instigated a petition in the Court House and had criticised the CJ as well as other members of the local judiciary. The purpose of the tribunal was to discover if, together with other allegations relating to her behaviour towardslegal counsel and witnesses, these issues amounted to misconduct sufficient to recommend her removal.

It could be as much as nine months before the top UK court examines the tribunal’s findings and  the judge who is contracted until 2011 will remain on full pay until the Privy Council makes its decision.

Following the Special Police Investigation, which has already cost the CI government well over $6.5 million and counting, including the $1.275 million damages given to Justice Alex Henderson for his unlawful arrest, the announcement that the Levers case will be incurring further costs came following the confirmation that Lyndon Martin’s two week trial for making allegations against a senior police officer would begin on 31 August and is also expected to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trial against Rudolph Dixon, the deputy commissioner of police, for misconduct in a public office, who has also been on full pay since March 2008, is due to start mid September and will also add to the growing legal bill which will be met by the Cayman tax paper.

There are still two legal actions pending against the Special Police Investigation Team and the police commissioner regarding the arrest of Burman Scott in connection with the Dixon case and the suspension and subsequent dismissal of the former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, which have yet to be settled.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    She does not deserve any $20m. Whatever has happened to her she has brought it upon herself, by not listening to good advice from others who told her to tone down her comments and behaviour. There is a saying, what goes around comes around. It has finally come around now. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with a poster on a related story that if one had not read the transcripts that one should not comment on whether action is justified or not.
      I have to confess that I have read only a very few — when I read about the slashing motion across the wrist, made toward a woman who was said to be suffering from depression, I rested my case.  That was despicable.  No one, whether judge or not, should be so insensitive and crass.
      By the way, there is no choice in the matter — if the panel has made a recommendation for removal, it must go to the Privy Council.  That is required under the Constitution, as was the hearing here when it comes to the disciplining of a judge — there is no alternative in our framework.

      If I had been Justice Levers, I would have sought to negotiate and accept any settlement before it came to the hearing here in Cayman.  It is now at the point where it is irredeemiable.
      However, the estimate of Privy Council costs indicated in this story is rather excessive.  It does not make sense for it to be so much, when it will not involve witnesses but only lawyers presenting the case for both sides.  It did not cost that much here when there was a much longer hearing, with witnesses. 

      I understand that the estimate is much more conservative a figure, though I totally agree that it is very sad that it has all come to this and a pity that we have to spend more of what we do not have, especially in these financially strapped times. 

      Nevertheless, on the upside, the whole process reveals that the Judicial Administration is capable of policing and does police itself against abuse — even from within.  That cannot be a bad thing.  And it will certainly serve as a stern warning to anyone who thinks he or she can overstep with impunity the bounds of propriety.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If Justice Levers wins this case, I bet there will be one more law suit. The Gov need to end her contract if they feel that this was worth it and pay her off.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is what should have happened. Too late for that now. She has suffered what is likely irreparable and serious damage to her reputation.  Doubtful that she would ever sit on the bench again anywhere.

      • Anonymous says:

        She deserves at least CI$ 20 million in compensation for destroying her reputation, good character and prolong mental agony.  With all gossips and other dirty laundary in the initial case, she would not be able to get another job in the judiciary anywhere else in the world.

        • Anonymous says:

          Granted the damage to reputation is irreparable but CI$20m is a completely unrealistic even if she is successful. She would not in several lifetimes have earned that on the bench.    

  3. Anonymous says:

    … and the Governor could have just paid her out to the end of her contract and saved the country millions….

    • Makam says:

      Yes adopt the typical attitude…sweep it under the carpet… breaking constitutional laws!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It seems that hiring her as a judge of the Grand Court was a big expensive mistake. She has cost us around $1m. and counting in medical bills and now according to your report $3m and counting as a result of misbehaviour on the bench to have her removed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We simply cannot afford this Cayman

  6. Caymanians for logic says:

    One headline states "Police burn Millions" and the other states "more costs to be incurred"….cannot help wonder if we cannot get these two to offset each other!   

    (smile-just in case someone misses the joke of the morning)