Input wanted on legal aid

| 04/01/2010

Cayman Islands News, Cayman local news, legal aid(CNS): In the wake of the controversies surrounding the premier’s decision to change the way legal aid is managed and funded, the committee set up to examine those potential changes is asking for public input. As part of its review process the Legal Aid Review Committee is inviting people to submit their comments on any aspect of the regulation of legal aid in the Cayman  Islands or to highlight any issues or problems which have arisen in this area of the law. The committee, which itself caused controversy because of the inclusion of  Steve McField who is set to benefit from the proposed changes, is expected to report back with its findings early this year.

Written submissions should be made no later than Friday, 15 January, and should be posted to Cheryl Neblett c/o Law Reform Commission, Government Administration Building or delivered by hand to the offices of the Commission on 3rd Floor Anderson Square. Submissions may also be sent to

McKeeva Bush first announced his intention to change how legal aid is funded during the last late sitting of the 2009/10 budget debate during Finance Committee in October last year. He said that local attorneys Theresa Pitcairn and Steve McField had proposed establishing a legal aid clinic, which would receive funding through the Ministry of Finance, Bush’s own ministry, instead of through the Legal Department. The proposed change was intended to cut annual spending on legal aid from $1.8 million to $1.2 million.

It soon became apparent, however, that neither the chief justice, who currently administers Legal Aid, the attorney Ggeneral, and the Criminal Defence Bar Association, the Law Society or the Human Rights Committee had been consulted regarding the proposal.

Before his departure the former governor, Stuart Jack, stepped into the debate and told the elected government to return funds to the current legal aid system until a full assessment and review about the changes had taken place, which includeed consultation with all the stake holders.

The committee, which has members from the courts, government and the governor’s office, has no representative from either the HRC or the legal community, with the exception of McField.

Auditor General Dan Duguay is also conducted a simultaneous value for money study of the current system and will be reporting his preliminary findings to the committee this month.

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  1. Twyla Vargas says:

    WELL HERE IS MY TWO BITS on the matter.  I am personally happy that Mr.Steve McField and Ms. Pitcarin will be the individuals responsible or Legal Aid.   I am familiar with both of them, and most Caymanians will admit that Steve and Theresa is quite familiar with the needs of Caymanians. which should not be mistaken for their wants.   Many Caymanians are praying that they may succeed with their efforts.

    I have followed the legal aid debte on this website, and  I am amazed that the hate some people have for these two Caymanians.  The Bar Association, The Law Society and others, are critizing the Government and the two indiviuals because they have offered  to do something postive for the Caymanian people. I heard that they even wrote a letter to the Governor about them.  But what amazes me is that no one has seen the plan that Ms Pitcarin and Mr McField has submitted to Mr Bush and his Cabinet and yet so many anonyous writers are criizing them.  Without being annymous, I am wondering  why?   Caymanians that I have spoken with, thinks that this is one of the best things happening for Caymanians.  I do feel that they are not being given a fair chance to succeed, and ever attempt is being made to destroy the inititiative because it is brought by these two Caymanians who are not afraid to speak their minds,and black.

    Many Caymanians are expressing comments; that if they were English, Canadian or Australian lawyers no one would hear "KE HEM"  about it, because many Caymanians are too buisy tearng down their own people, and think that if you aint speaking with a foreign accent and blanco, you dont have any sense.

    I hope this dose’nt become any uglier,and turn into a RACE track thing. because the people of Cayman is fed up to the chin with the stress.  I do not know how much legal aid cost and whether what Mr McField and Ms Pitcarin  planning will be better but as a Caymnian I am willing to give them a chance to tell and show  theirplans.  I want t hear what they have to say.

    I know many Caymanians who expressed feelings, that the legal  system is biased, and that too uch money is spent defending persons who have committed hideous, horrible crimes.   This is not to say, every body does not deserve a fair trial.   But a system should e put in place that is fair to everyone. There are persons who ne help with immigration matters, Labour matters, employment and other things, not only murder and rape.

    I would like to read what theBar Association and and Law Society has to say about making legal aid  better, and of course I have not heard a "PEEK" out of anyone  until Mr. McField and Ms Pitcarin tried to do something about it.   I am also aware that certain Caymanian Lawyer and politician were against its development but I do hope political intervention does not does not interfere with something that should beneft the people of Cayman

    • Question says:


      You may be aware of these individuals.  However are you aware of Ms. Pitcairn’s experience in criminal defence work?  If so please enlighten us, becuase nobody I know thought she had any.

      Kind regards

      Someone who does not want a rookie defending the poor

    • NOFavours says:

      Ms. Vargas,

      Outside of the fact that you thinking these two Caymanians are good people who know what Caymanians need has absolutley zero relevance or bearing on their ability to administer Legal Aid in this country, I must say that I do see an inkling of what the real issues are within your rather lenghty post.

      The issue is FUNDING. At this time, the majority of funds goes towards criminal cases- and, quite frankly, the budget allocated to Legal Aid is a pittance and reflects very poorly on this country. Truth be told, the entire judicial system is grossly underfunded and our government fails to see the value in providing more monetary support to the courts.

      If the government would address this issue, rather than wasting money and time by throwing much needed funds and resources at nonsensical legal Aid reviews ( considering one was done within the last 5 years and recommnedations WERE ALREADY MADE) and creating pointless Legal Aid offices and positions for friends who were left out in the cold after the elections.

  2. Jim Mora says:

    Input?! Don’t talk about input! Are you kidding me? Input?! I’m just hoping that neither Steve McField  nor Theresa Pitcairn end up having to be my attorney!


  3. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion the Legal Aid Review Committee should make more information available before asking for public comments. What use is public consultation if people don’t have the facts? This story reports that the Committee "is inviting people to submit their comments on any aspect of the regulation of legal aid in the Cayman  Islands or to highlight any issues or problems which have arisen in this area of the law." That’s pretty broad and I doubt the feedback will be as useful as it could be with that kind of approach. Honestly, it seems quite lazy and rushed for such an important issue.

    Many people don’t truly understand how the system works now, exactly what is being proposed and the benefits and drawbacks as compared to the current system, and other possible alternatives for reform. I’m sure a lot of people will still have an opinion, but will this public feedback be truly informed with such a broad request from the Committee? I for one would like to see a study, report, proposal, bill, anticipated costs, etc, and think the Committee would benefit more from feedback based on more information.

    Though the documents aren’t particularly recent and don’t necessarily speak to the current move, if anyone would like more information on a previous proposal for reform of the Legal Aid system the Law Reform Commission has some useful documents on their website, even if they are not directly relevant:

    Preliminary Discussion Paper: (draft from 2006)

    Legal Aid Regulations (draft from 2005)

    Bill for Legal Aid reform (draft from 2005)

  4. Job hunter says:

    Is it necessary to be a member of the UDP to be considered for  jobs in this new body?

  5. Anonymous says:

    what a joke      now that the goverment has reliased that they made a big mistake, they wants imput from the public  this whole was done to find a job for two political buddies. one on the same review team,  conflict of intrest if ever i have seen it. i guess that elio headind the team since he has a cure for every problem this country has .not  a lawer that deal with legal aid cases.  i heard that this was done because lloyd sampson company is making all the money from legal aid. i hope that the committe will find out how many other lawer are willing to take legal aid cases.  very few are willing because they make more money dealing with thier financal clients. if lloyd was a udp stoge this would not have happen.  this another sign of a dictator in action    what a banana republic

  6. Anonymous says:

    I for one do not believe that this exercise is anything but an exercise in futility. This government has no interest in anything but lining the pockets of certain of its supporters.

  7. noname says:


    it will benefit aspiring young Caymanians who wish to pursue law, in providing opprotunity to work and train in the office

    it will help the poorer people who may just need advise at a lower cost



    it will be moved from under the Judiciary

    aevery person once qualified for legal aid should receive it, don’t like Mac’s thought that he ain’t paying for people to shoot up people children…everybody deserves a fair trial,

    • Anonymous says:

      you get arrested for a murder you didn’t do…you want a ‘young’ anyone representing you?!

      this shouldn’t be a learning experience for anyone – but access to justice. quality representation.

      yes get the law students in to help out, do simple and suitable tasks but experienced qualified lawyers will need to be the core of this.

      also lets hope people actually make submissions regarding this to the details given and not simply make comments on the CNS website!

    • Anonymous says:

      Input? What’s the point? It will be a waste of time & effort. Mr. Mcfield feels he knows it all & Mr. Bush already has his mind made up, & what he wants he gets when he is the leader!

    • Anonymouse says:

      Those young Caymanian aspiring lawyers interested in public service could join, wait for it, the Legal Department. (Since we’ve not got young lawyers joining law firms instead of government because they want to do defense instead of offense thats not the reason they’re not joining government already.) 

    • Pull the other one . . says:

      I don’t think any country in the world offers more training opportunities for its population as attorneys than Cayman does.

      • Anonymous says:

        Uh….think again….check the stats on how many persons are currently seeking pupilage to complete their legal training to get called to the Bar, to no avail  !!!   Yet, week after week after week there are more General Admissions listed on the Grand Court List….yes these firms cannot take on Caymanian trainee attorneys? What recourse do they have?    Work permits for attorneys should somehow be tied to how many trainee lawyers each firm has hired.

        • Query says:

          Since pupillage is necessary to be called to the English bar in England why would it be any concern of ours here whether someone is struggling to qualify in another country? 

        • Bush says:

          Yes every Caymanian is intelligent enough to be a lawyer, unfortunately most law schools expect far better results than the Government schools are averaging for admission

  8. anonymous says:

    Hopefully the precedent of our previous Gov’r will remind the Premier that it is unwise to unilaterally abrogate due process and consultation with concerned parties.   

  9. Anonymous says:

    Excellent. This ability should address the crying of certain lawyers that they were not included on the Committee.

    It also shows that the Government is committed to allowing input into the development.

    Legal aid has long been an issue and the UDP should be commended for at least trying to do something about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Steve Dat Yu??  Soun like Yu. Can’t beleave anybody else has dat opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come on Steve (13:41), we already know how you feel, so please give us a break