Keep it brief: a reminder from the Court on the benefits of brevity
On 9 August 2022, the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands dismissed a winding up petition in Seahawk China Dynamic Fund. In giving his judgment, Justice Doyle took the opportunity to urge practitioners to exercise more discipline and focus on making skeleton arguments and written submissions shorter.
The Court noted that the parties put in opening submissions and closing submissions that collectively ran to 239 pages and 244 pages respectively. Additionally, the Court noted the voluminous documentation and overflowing volumes of the hearing bundle that were before the Court for what the Court considered should have been a relatively simple case.
The Court reflected that the increasing length of written submissions and the “mass of material” being put before the courts necessarily impacted the length of judgments. The Court noted that if written submissions are kept shorter it would place judges in a better position to deliver more concise judgments within a reasonable time. Citing the works of Lady Arden and Lord Burrows in relation to judgment writing and the findings of the Privy Council in Byers v Chen Ningning, the Court emphasized the need for judgments to be concise, clear and coherent and delivered expeditiously.
In rejecting the criticism that the judgment of the lower court was “so concise and that it was produced with such speed that it may be inferred that the judge did not consider all of the relevant evidence before him or the submissions he heard”, the Privy Council in Byers stated as follows:
“As a general matter, the expeditious production and delivery of a judgment is to be applauded, not criticised; and concision in a judgment is a quality, not a defect.”
The Court in Seahawk noted that “the worthy aspiration for concise judgments is a lot easier said in theory than implemented in reality”. Practitioners should do their part in facilitating the swift delivery of judgments by being mindful of the length of their written submissions and the volume of documents they produce before the Court.