Solicitor General appointed as Queen’s Counsel.

| 26/11/2009

(CNS): Cheryll Richards and four other members of the Cayman Islands legal community have been appointed as Queen’s Counsel. Along with the solicitor general, Langston Sibblies, General Counsel to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority; Justice Angus Foster, former Partner of Walkers and Acting Grand Court Judge; Kenneth Farrow, formerly Partner at Quin & Hampson and now Counsel at Mourant du Feu & Jeune; and Neil Timms, former partner of Maples and Calder, and now from his own Chambers in George Town have also been awarded their ‘silks.’

The appointments were made after consultation with the UK secretary of state and the governor, Stuart Jack, who effected the appointments by signing the Warrants of Appointment this week.  The recommendations for these new admissions to the Inner Bar of the Cayman Islands were made by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie following consultation with the other members of the Judiciary.  Smellie said these appointments were made “with regard to the needs of the jurisdiction for QCs,” noting that there are only two other Silks in active practice in the Cayman Islands.  Other holders have either moved out of the jurisdiction, retired, or channelled their service into the local judiciary. It will be the chief justice who will conduct a formal ceremony of admission of the five new Silks to the Inner Bar of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.

QCs are recognised as the most eminent members of the Bar and bestowed in line with a 400-year-old tradition originating in the UK but now observed in Commonwealth countries. Queen’s Counsel, or King’s Counsel (KC) during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent  to be one of "Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law".

“The recognition of Queen’s Counsel comes with an understanding that appointees will do a fair amount of public interest or pro bono work,” said the CJ.

Historically, as well as giving counsel to the monarch, it was envisaged that Queen’s Counsels’ roles would extend to cases involving claims by ordinary people against even the King or Queen of the day, the Chief Justice said, alluding to the public-spirited nature of service expected of QCs.

According to the criteria in the UK, the award of Queen’s Counsel is for excellence in advocacy in the higher courts. It is made to experienced lawyers, both barristers and solicitors, who have a right of audience in the higher courts and who have demonstrated the competencies to a standard of excellence.

The Queen’s Counsel tradition began, the chief justice noted, on the public side of the administration of justice, and in the UK, where it had its genesis, attorneys general and solicitors general of England and Wales are automatically made QCs.  This, he said, is by virtue of the fact that the achievement of such status obviously implies eminencein the law.

Solicitor General Richards, who has been practising law since 1986, joined the Chambers of the Attorney General of the Cayman Islands in 1996, serving as Crown Counsel Criminal and later as Senior Crown Counsel International before her appointment as Solicitor General in 2005. As Solicitor General she acts for the Attorney General in his absence and appears in the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal in matters of importance.

Sibblies who has over 34 years experience at the Bar came to the Monetary Authority in September 2000 and was appointed Chairman of the Cayman Islands Law Reform Commission in July 2006.  He was appointed the first Executive Director of the Secretariat in the Portfolio of Finance in 1999 and has represented the Cayman Islands over the years at such forum as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), and the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD), among others.

Justice Foster has had a long-standing record of service as a lawyer and has been admitted to the Bar in the Cayman Islands for over 28 years and has appeared in many of the most significant cases before the Courts, not only in the Grand Court but also the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. He has been acting as a judge in the Grand Court for just over two years.

Kenneth Farrow, who was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn, London, in 1966, was admitted as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands with Quin & Hampson, dealing with corporate, commercial and trust litigation and corporate (including Cross-Border) insolvency, trusts and probate.  He became a Partner at Quin and Hampson in 2004 and Counsel at Mourant du Feu & Jeune in 2007. Neil Timms, who was called to the Bar in England and Wales in 1974 was first admitted as a Cayman Islands attorney in 1989, when he was engaged by Maples and Calder. For the past three years he has been in sole practice as an attorney, largely in the areas of commercial, trust and insolvency referrals.  He has also acted as an arbitrator.

Jack thanked the new Silks for their commitment to the public and noble service that he said this new honour denotes, and wished them continued success.

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  1. Anonymous says:

     Have you thought that perhaps neither Truman nor David have any interest in being appointed?!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Some of the appointments make sense. However in one case I suspect that there may be prisoners in Northward who have spent more time in a court room than the appointee. That plus the fact there are other lawyers who are accomplished and long serving counsel who did not receive recognition has to make thinking people wonder what is going on. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    In England it costs about $7500 to apply for Silk (if you succeed).  Is this a revenue stream we have been missing?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well done to these individuals they are all deserving. 

    But why do Cayman officials only appoint "Silks" effectively as an honorary title towards the end of someone’s career.  If we appointed more "Silks" from the lawyers actively working in Cayman we would not need to "import" as many lawyers from London to argue cases or provide advice – which is really export millions of dollars of work from Cayman to London.  It would also help enhance the credibility of the jurisdiction.  This would be a low cost step which might help protect local jobs.

    • Passenger says:

      Its the same with Counsel in the UK – they only obtain ‘silk’ status after many many many years of work

      • Anonymous says:

        Thta is just not true.  In London most silks areappointed after about 15 or so years call – probably in their early 40’s not at the end of their careers like here. 

        • Ex Pat says:

          ?? Strange – I’ve worked almost 25 years in law and most of my friends and acquaintances in England are Barristers, several silks among them – all way past 50 and with more than two/three decades experience before achieving silk status.  Or are you referring to the new selection method which is only roughly 3 years old and therefore still needs to be tried and tested?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nothing for Steve or Theresa?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Which lawyer has been more committed to the public than Mr. Steve McField, Mr. Truman Bodden and Mr. David Ritch? When will they get their silks?

    Why is it Caymanian Lawyers have such a difficlt time being appointed QC in Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. All three of these should have been considered for the appointment of QC. The problem is we Caribbean people believe that people who come here from other countries are somehow superior – so we quietly accept our inferior status.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians have not usually been drawn to litigation and litigators become QC’s.  It is not really any more complicated or dakker than that.  Look at the websites and look at the leading litigators in the leading firms, you will find fewer born Caymanians than the other fields of law. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they get no effective training unlike in the UK and elsewhere.