Remote Court hearings by video-link have now become common in the Cayman Islands, especially during Covid-19 lockdown. Alex Potts QC and Róisín Liddy-Murphy of Conyers discuss some of the pros and cons, and public policy concerns, associated with online justice in offshore jurisdictions.
Judges, lawyers, and litigants have suddenly had to implement, and become familiar with, the IT (Zoom or Skype for Business), as well as the legal issues, whether contained in primary or secondary legislation, court rules or practice directions.
There is now an enormous body of knowledge, and opinion, on the conduct of remote court hearings. Not a day goes by without another article or webinar offering advice based on yesterday’s remote court hearing.
Although the Cayman Islands is a small jurisdiction, in terms of its resident population and geographical area, it is a major international financial centre with a sophisticated legal system based on English law.
Cayman is fortunate to have, as part of its Grand Court, a specialist Financial Services Division for the conduct of international commercial disputes; a Court of Appeal made up of distinguished English and international appellate judges; and a final appellate court in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Cayman Islands Court system is currently ahead of much of the rest of the world, when it comes to the conduct of remote court hearings by video-link in commercial disputes. This is for various reasons: since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, many Cayman Islands law firms have invested significantly in their IT infrastructure; the Cayman Islands’ legal profession is accustomed to interviewing clients, examining witnesses, giving advice, taking instructions, and participating in meetings, by telephone and video, across different time zones; there are a number of sitting judges of the Cayman Islands’ Grand Court and the Court of Appeal, who do not reside full-time in the Cayman Islands, but who are willing to make themselves available by telephone or video for urgent court hearings in commercial cases; and a large number of Cayman lawyers have trained and worked internationally, and there is a strong working relationship between the Cayman Islands Bar and the English Bar (with a number of English QCs, some of whom are resident in the Cayman Islands, appearing before the Cayman Courts on particularly complex, high-value matters).
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This article was originally published in Commercial Dispute Resolution Magazine.