CJ spends $360k to clarify power of JLSC

| 26/08/2013

(CNS): A Freedom of information request has revealed that the chief justice has so far spent $360,799.22 on legal fees from the court’s budget seeking a ruling regarding the power of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) established under the new constitution. Anthony Smellie filed a petition last year seeking clarity on the powers of the JLSC in relation to the appointment of judges past retirement age, disciplinary procedures and the general impact the commission has on the critical issue of the indpendence of thejudiciary. But the UK court declined to hear the petition and handed the case back to Cayman’s Grand Court, suggesting that was the appropriate place for the first hearing.

Following the decision, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie explained that the aim of his petition was to bring local provisions for judicial tenure and discipline in line with standards in the United Kingdom as a means of safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.

“Great care will need to be taken as the next steps are explored,” the chief justice said, noting that having the matter resolved before the Privy Council would have been quicker, simpler and less costly than dealing with it locally because the matter may end up back with the Privy Council on appeal after it winds its way through the local court system.

The FOI request also revealed that Justice Alex Henerson, who continues on contract at present beyond the 60 years retirement age of other civil servants, as is common among the judiciary, currently earns CI$16.570.18 per month plus health and pension benefits.

See details of FOI request below.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wrong on both counts…

    MLAs are elected, so if they steal, it's the people who are allowing it.

    The million-dollar issue is, on the other hand, that judges are appointed by HE the Governor, and should respect his decisions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we can save a bit of money if the judges stop wearing those silly wigs. The dry cleaning bill is probably huge in this hot and humid climate.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And when they do finally retire, the judges get a pension equal to 80% of their final salary.

    • SSM345 says:

      The difference between an MLA's pension and a Judge?

      The Judge actually earns their pension, an MLA steals it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The pensions law should never have been amended to give such extravagant pensions to judges. Most of them are already rich and can well take car of themselves. Yet on the other hand some very poor and needy folks are getting ridiculously meager pensions each month. A crying shame! These are the injustices that government needs to address.

    • Anonymous says:

      …and they voted themselves these lucrative salry & pension increases some years back!

      So much for separation of  authority – without accompanying responsibilty.

      • Anonymous says:

        Judges do not vote their salary and pensions  packages.  Are you thinking MLAs?

        • Anonymous says:

          You are correct. The judges do not vote themselves these salaries. They get someone like the late Michael Bradley, former Attorney General and one of them, to do a report recommending these massive salaries and pension benefits. It was called "The Bradley Report" and can be FOIed. Following it, Governor John Owen put in place a system of remuneration that would keep the judges, ad infinitum, doing much better than any of the rest of us!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    These are important, complex issues that need to be resolved. Yet Kerry seems to be approaching this from her usual standpoint of Caymanians being held down by the British and favouritism of expatriates in highly-paid positions, which, of course, results in automatic indignation.

    Oh the horror! An expatriate judge (unless Hon. Justice Henderson has gotten status, in which case even if he is a white man who wasn't born here, he is a Caymanian) is potentially being allowed to work until he is 70! And he receives a very handsome salary! For the work that he does! The injustice of it all!

    Kerry, there are many legitimate cases where Caymanians are discriminated against in employment. But this is not one of them. Put down your hammer in this case, because this is NOT A nail.

    The Hon. Justice deserves his salary, as do all of the other judges and magistrates. And it's certainly worth the cost to pursue a resolution to the matter. This is so much bigger than an expatriate getting a contract renewal when you mistakenly believe he shouldn't have, and your FOI request and this respose show how much you have misunderstood these issues.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The CJ made the right move in seeking to leapfrog the local courts. The matter relates to a judge of said courts. The Privy Council has jurisdiction over the local judiciary – that is why it was the Privy Council that advised HM to remove former Justice Levers. How is one of Henderson's judicial colleagues, with a vested interest in the outcome, supposed to rule on this matter with a straight face?

    The problem is the Supreme Court justices don't enjoy sitting as the Privy Council, and are on record as saying they would prefer the UK's territories and former territories to find other solutions to their final appeal needs. They will hand back whatever they can. In taking that attitude they forget about the opportunities these appeals give them to change the common law and alleviate weaknesses in English law, opportunities they take regularly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why can't it be decided by a specially appointed judge to the Grand Court as we do with many other cases where there is a potential conflict?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why couldn't the Privy Council have considered the state of our Treasury and grasped the nettle when we asked it to? We know what happens when a judge is brought out to decide whether one of his fellow judges should be told yes or no. We knowthat because of Henderson himself. Besides, you don't have a Grand Court judge settling arguments between the Governor and the Chief Justice. You just don't. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Highest appellate courts should not bend to the whims of adminstrative laziness and self-imposed civil service penury and then stoop to the workings of a first instance court.

          • Anonymous says:

            Otherwise intelligent people should remember that their prejudices may cloud their thinking, fellow lawyer.

        • Anonymous says:

          Because the PC is concerned with correct law and procedure rather than the state of our treasury.