Privy Council sits in the Cayman Islands
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the JCPC) sat in the Cayman Islands from 15-18 November 2022 to hear three separate appeals. The JCPC, normally based in London, is the final appellate court for many offshore jurisdictions, including the Cayman Islands. The sitting of the JCPC was a historic visit for the Cayman Islands and our local community was proud of the occasion.
The development of the Cayman Islands' legal system and jurisprudence is underpinned by established English common law equitable principles. Decisions by English courts are considered highly persuasive and as a result, a substantive portion of Cayman Islands law is closely aligned with English law.
The visit was an important occasion also in the history of the JCPC. As stated by Lord Reed, President of the JCPC and the UK Supreme Court, the JCPC is focused on prioritising and strengthening the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the JCPC and were actively involved in learning more about the Islands. Lord Reed further noted that whilst learning is a two-way process, it is hoped that people will realise that the court is not as remote or inaccessible as might be imagined.
Whilst sitting in the Cayman Islands, the JCPC heard three appeals, namely:
- FamilyMart China Holding Co Ltd (Respondent) v Ting Chuan (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation (Appellant) (Cayman Islands) - JCPC 2020/0055 - just and equitable winding up petition dispute with an underlying arbitral element;
- HEB Enterprises Ltd and another (Respondents) v Bernice Richards (as Personal Representative of the Estate of Anthony Richards, Deceased) (Appellant) (Cayman Islands) - JCPC 2020/0087 - commercial property transaction dispute involving a contractual breach; and
- Justin Ramoon (Appellant) v Governor of the Cayman Islands and another (Respondent) (Cayman Islands) - JCPC 2022/0066 - application for judicial review concerning the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights.
In demonstrating their commitment to transparency and accessibility, the three appeals were open to public attendance and was in fact well attended by many legal practitioners and students alike. JCPC hearings can also be accessed remotely via live stream, a feature which further showcases their continuous efforts to encourage access to justice.
In addition to hearing these appeals, the Justices held a number of meetings including with Government officials and the Cayman Islands Judiciary. They also conducted “Ask a Justice” sessions with students at the Truman Bodden Law School and local high schools.
In his address to the Court with the assembled Cayman Islands Judiciary, legal practitioners and local dignitaries, Lord Reed acknowledged that judgments issued in cases from the Cayman Islands continue to receive global recognition. This speaks not only to the highly regarded work of the Judiciary and the quality of justice available in the Islands, but also the confidence in the legal system as a critical factor in supporting international investment and the financial services industry.
The JCPC’s visit, which was well-received, emphasises the standing of the Cayman Islands' legal system and highlights the pre-eminence of the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction of choice for companies who choose to incorporate there and litigants who put their faith in the Islands’ judicial excellence and integrity.