CJ says rights to open justice not absolute

| 14/05/2015 | 0 Comments
CNS Business

Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie

(CNS Business): Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has said that courts have to adopt a “principled, pragmatic and flexible” approach when it comes to balancing the right to open justice and public access in trust cases.  Delivering a speech as the recent Transcontinental Trusts Bermuda conference, Cayman’s top judge spoke about the need for the court to recognize the public interest in the open administration of justice even while preserving the confidentiality of private trusts and the people concerned.

The Bermuda conference covered complex legal, tax, and human issues over protecting personal wealth and the role of international financial centres in the establishment and administration of trusts. Hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and the government. Smellie was among more than 50 trust experts to share their knowledge and 240 delegates at the conference last month.

Among the topics he covered the chief justice spoke about the courts obligation “to observe and apply the principle of open justice” but the public’s right to witness it “was not absolute”.

Illustrating ways the court can publish public judgments while anonymizing families to avoid revelations about their wealth and putting their security at risk, he said the international courts were accepting the obligation, even in non-contentious trustee applications, to observe and apply the principle of open justice, while making practical orders for the protection of privacy.

He pointed out that the “mere desire of the parties” to want the proceedings closed was not enough to make them private but where “reasonably necessary” for the purpose of protecting rights, reputations and freedoms as well as the private lives of those involved the courts had the discretion to close the doors.

“In the context not only of uncontentious but also of contentious trust proceedings, the courts may be called upon and will have an obligation to decide whether such measures for the exclusion of the public as are minimally necessary to ensure the proper administration of justice, should be put in place,” he told the audience.

Presentation by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie at the Transcontinental Trusts Bermuda Forum 24 April 2015


Category: Finance, Financial Services

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