Jamaican sworn in as Cayman’s first female chief justice Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaican Margaret Ramsay-Hale, a judge of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, was sworn in as the first female chief justice of the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, October 25.

While this is a first for the Cayman Islands, the prestigious appointment is only one of many achievements for the incoming chief justice, having been the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands and, subsequently, the first woman to hold the position as chief justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Ramsay-Hale is the daughter of the late legal giant Ian Ramsay, QC.

Accepting her incoming role as chief justice of the Cayman Islands, Ramsay-Hale had this to say about the outgoing chief justice, Sir Anthony Stafford Smellie:

I want to express my extraordinary gratitude as well to our current chief justice… Sir Anthony… for the tremendous support, mentorship and friendship he has given me over the last 25 years.

As I begin my journey walking beside his enormous footsteps (because I will not try to follow in them), I am grateful that I can continue to count on his support.

Ramsay-Hale also bestowed compliments upon other members of the judiciary, acknowledging their contributions, including how their work was referred to in judgments in courts of other jurisdictions.

Elucidating on the point, she explained: “One thing that Cayman can be proud of is that we have excellent judges and that the decisions of our court are cited in many other jurisdictions, particularly in other overseas territories. In fact, we consider our bench to be extraordinary.”

Ramsay-Hale also expressed ‘thanks’ to her children, saying that “they, too, have worked hard… and they have supported me well on the way”.

Regarding her goals for the judiciary while in her new role as chief justice of the Cayman Islands, she said:

In my tenure as Chief Justice, the goal of the Cayman Islands judiciary will be to establish a blueprint for court excellence.

We will be adopting the international framework for court excellence which is, in brief, a quality management system designed to help courts improve their performance.

This framework was developed by an international consortium consisting of groups and organisations from Europe, Asia, Australia and United States.

The idea of achieving excellence through adopting performance standards and applying performance measures is not new.

This is evidenced-based work that we are about to embark upon, which we hope will be transformative… in terms of the service we deliver to the public and other court users.

It is not new, but the time has come in the Cayman Islands.”

Top far L-R: Outgoing chief justice, Sir Anthony Smellie and incoming chief justice the Hon. Margaret Ramsay-Hale

More about the role of chief justice

According to the website of the judiciary of the Cayman Islands, the chief justice has responsibility for “all matters arising in judicature”.

In addition to the purely judicial functions, the chief justice, or a designated judge acting in an administrative capacity, is also the Central Authority for the purposes of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The treaty was entered into between the United States and the United Kingdom on behalf of the Cayman Islands in 1986.

At the formal ceremonial opening of the Grand Court each year, the chief justice presents an annual report to the public on the work of the courts.