As a British dependent territory the legal system in the Cayman Islands is based upon that of the United Kingdom and the common law of the United Kingdom has general application unless there are specific statutory provisions which provide otherwise. The rules of practice which apply to civil litigation are contained in the Supreme Court Practice (The White Book) of the United Kingdom unless local Cayman rules or statutory enactments provide otherwise.

The Court System

The Cayman Islands consists of a four-tier Court system:

The Summary Court. This Court has similar jurisdiction to the Magistrates Court in the U.K. and its civil jurisdiction is limited to CI$2,000.00.

The Grand Court. This Court has similar jurisdiction to that of the High Court in the U.K. and is presided over by a single judge. This is the Court in which most litigation is instituted.

The Court of Appeal. This Court has jurisdiction parallel to that of the Court of Appeal in the U.K. and typically sits with three judges chosen from a panel, however a single judge may preside in certain instances.

Privy Council. This is similar to the House of Lords in the U.K. and is the only court which does not sit in the Cayman Islands. It is the final Court of Appeal and is seated in London.

Considerations Prior to the Commencement of Litigation

Prior to commencing litigation proceedings with cross-border implications, careful consideration should be given to a number of issues which may impact considerably on the outcome of the proposed litigation. The following is a list of some of the more critical issues which should be considered prior to commencement of litigation:-

The jurisdiction of the Court where the litigation is to be commenced and whether the country under consideration is a convenient forum to commence such litigation. The estimated cost of the litigation. Does the litigation arise from a contract and if so does the law of any particular country apply to the resolution of the dispute by virtue of the contractual terms? What is the status of the relevant parties? Are they corporate or individual? Are they foreign and if so, what specific rules apply? What is the domicile of the relevant parties, what rules apply relative to the service of the pleadings on these parties and how can service be effected? What is the nature of the evidence to be called? Are witnesses located in foreign countries and do they speak foreign languages? Are they able to travel? Are the...

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