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Local News 17 Feb, 2021 Follow News

James Austin-Smith

By Christopher Tobutt


The Cayman Islands Government(CIG) is facing considerable damages expected to run into multiple millions of tax-payer dollars following the harsh judgement handed down in the Grand Court over an illegal raid on Doctors Express.

In a press conference, attorney James Austin-Smith who represented Doctors Express in the high-profile case, outlined that the next step would be to pursue costs which he described as ‘a significant sum,’ although he did not give a figure.

He said that among areas that will form the basis for a significant claim for compensation arising from the court ruling are; damage to their stock of medical cannabinoid vapes quantities of which had to be destroyed, loss of business, reputational damage and legal expenses.

“The next stage is that there is going to be an examination of the question of damages owing to Doctors Express for various issues, including the loss to their business, the damage to the medications because they were all stored improperly by Customs, and when we got a lot of them back they were covered in mold and so a lot of those had to be thrown away because they weren’t safe to be given to patients.”

The attorney also said Doctors Express was “put to huge expense having to bring these legal proceedings” and that they will be “looking for the party that acted unlawfully to pay the costs of that.”

Mr Austin-Smith is of the view that the outcome of the case sends an important message.

“I am delighted for my clients because they have had their reputation vindicated,” he said while pointing out that the judgement has ramifications beyond that.

“It is not just about this specific facts-set,” he stressed. “It is about the way in which the state acts with the individual.”

The attorney said “a case like this shows how vital it is that no one is above the law, and that the law has to be complied with.”

“A case like this where Customs, as the judge found, deliberately targeted Doctors Express unlawfully, is vital, because it means that the public can have confidence in the system.

He referred to the situation “where Parliament has explicitly legalized medications, but then Customs has decided to go behind Parliament’s back and circumvent the rule of law."

“A judgment like this that explains, ‘no. no one is allowed to do that,’ is hugely important,” Mr Austin-Smith emphasised.

Doctors Express had obtained licenses to import and prescribe medicinal cannabinoids after a change in the law.

Reviewing the judgment in his client’s favour, Mr Austin-Smith said: “The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands found that the Chief Medical Officer, Customs, the RCIPS, and the Justice of the Peace had all acted unlawfully, and that the banning notice should never have been issued, and that the raid should never have taken place.”

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