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First female Chief Justice, Ramsay-Hale, sworn in

Front Pages 26 Oct, 2022 Follow News

First female Chief Justice, Ramsay-Hale, sworn in

Christopher Tobutt

Margaret Ramsay-Hale was sworn in as the Cayman Islands’ new Chief Justice on Tuesday 25 October. Present were His Excellency the Governor Martyn Roper, Deputy Governor Hon Franz Manderson, Premier, the Hon Wayne Panton, Deputy Premier Hon Chris Saunders, other members of Cabinet, the outgoing Chief Justice Sir Anthony Smellie, fellow judges, attorneys and members of the public. She is Cayman’s first ever female Chief Justice and her appointment runs until 11 Oct 2031.

As head of the judiciary, each Chief Justice is responsible for representing the views of the judiciary to Parliament, for the maintenance and welfare and guidance of the judiciary, and the deployment and allocation of judiciary and works within the courts. “No public official is more accountable than members of the judiciary,” commented outgoing chief justice Sir Anthony Smellie, “Everything is done in the glare of public scrutiny. The challenges themselves are often magnified by the expectations of immediate responses and solutions which come with that scrutiny.”

The Governor stood with Ramsay-Hale in the Centre of the court with a bible in his hand for the swearing in. “I Margaret Ramsay-Hale do solemnly and sincerely swear and declare that I will well and truly serve his Majesty King Charles III His Heirs and Successors, and the people of the Cayman Islands in the office of Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands that I will do right to all manner of people according to the law without fear or favor, affection or ill will so help me God.”

The Governor declared, “By virtue of the power and authority vested in me, by sections 95.3 and 106 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 and by subsection 1 of section 6 of the Grand Court Act 2015 revision, and of every other power hereunto enabling I have constituted and appointed and by these presents do constitute and appoint you, the said Margaret Ramsay Hale, to be Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands with effect from the 25th Day of October.”

“The swearing in of a new chief justice and the first woman to hold the post is indeed an historic occasion for our jurisdiction. Chief Justice Ramsay Hale-is an outstanding appointment warmly welcomed across her islands. It is a sign of the quality of the judiciary in our islands that the JLSC made an appointment from the bench here in Cayman. It is testimony to the quality of the candidate but also a strong signal of confidence in the Cayman Islands where our independent judiciary plays such a key role in our rule of law and democracy. Indeed the strength of an independent judiciary underpins the success of our financial services.”

Attorney General Hon. Samuel Bulgin said Ramsay-Hale’s career began at the Chambers of Church St, Jamaica, before moving first to Montego Bay, and then to the Cayman Islands as Magistrate, Chief Magistrate, Acting Grand Court Judge, followed by Chief Justice in the Turks & Caicos Islands, “Before returning to the Cayman islands now at the pinnacle of the judiciary.”

Chief Justice Ramsay-Hale thanked the Governor for breaking with tradition by allowing the swearing in to take place in a public court. “For me it was very important symbolically to be sworn in the public view, because this is where we do our work,” she said

“This is not an appointment to another court an appointment to my home court. Yes I am Jamaican, and that’s where I grew up, but there is something to be said by raising your children in another community then you enter another phase of your own growing up, and for me as a mother and as a woman the years I’ve spent raising my family, were my formative years, as much as my years in Jamaica were.

“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 a quality management system designed to help courts improve their performance.”

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