By Alan Markoff
The Cayman Islands could soon offer a new financial service that’s a hot commodity in the legal world.
Ian Paget-Brown and his firm, Paget-Brown Chambers, plan to open the Cayman International Arbitration Centre in Camana Bay. On 2 August, the firm hosted an information session for invited guests in the legal profession.
The information session’s invitation noted that recourse to arbitration as a means of dispute resolution has been steadily growing over the past 25 years and the Cayman Islands made a clear commitment to becoming a jurisdiction supporting arbitration when it enacted the Arbitration Law 2012.
“There is a strong history of enforcement proceedings in relation to foreign awards and recent court decisions have demonstrated a trend towards broadening the types of disputes that are capable of settlement by arbitration,” the invitation noted.
“Arbitration is increasingly popular … there’s no denying that,” said Iria Giuffrida, one of the people who presented at the session. “Sophisticated clients want more control over dispute resolution.”
Giuffrida said arbitration was not only firmly anchored in the legal community, but it was also proving to be effective.
One essential requirement for the Cayman International Arbitration Centre is that it offers the type of reliable modern technology that will permit remote appearances for arbitrators, counsel and witnesses from anywhere in the world, and the visual presentation of electronic evidence during hearings.
Working with Paget-Brown on the project is the Center for Legal and Court Technology, a joint initiative of William & Mary Law School in Virginia, and the National Center for State Courts, a United States organisation that offers worldwide assistance to courts.
In addition to Giuffrida, the Center for Legal and Court Technology’s deputy director, others presenting at the information session included the Center’s director, Fredric Lederer, and its deputy director emeritus, Martin Gruen, who has vast experience in courtroom design and technology.
One of the big attractions of arbitration is confidentiality, Giuffrida said, noting that the public is increasingly being given access to all court filings — and not just initial pleadings. In cases like partnership disputes, where the partnership still intends to function, having the details of the dispute become public could damage the partnership’s reputation.
The need for international arbitration centres could increase because of Brexit, Giuffrida said.
“Brexit will have an effect on the legal market in London,” she said. “There’s a part of the market that is now looking for a hub and I think Cayman could be a great home for it.”
The time for the Cayman Islands to enter the booming arbitration market is now, she said.
“If you wait five years, your competitors will set this up.”
Paget-Brown said it was his vision to have the arbitration centre operational sometime next year.
“I think it’s an opportunity to import legal work to the Cayman Islands to the benefit of young, Caymanian lawyers,” he said. “I’m hoping it develops an industry for dispute resolution that will add to Cayman’s financial services.”
This article was originally published in the September 2019 edition of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians.