It was a significant and historic event, opening, as it did, with the announcement of his retirement by the President of the Courts, Sir Murray Stuart-Smith, who many lawyers will recognise as one of the most distinguished and respected judges to have served, latterly, in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Gibraltar has had the benefit of his erudition and deep jurisprudential knowledge and reasoning during his years as a member, and then President, of Gibraltar’s own Court of Appeal. Both David Dumas QC and the Attorney-General paid generous tribute to his work and commitment to Gibraltar.
This year saw the return to the historic Supreme Court building on Main Street but at the completion of the brand new complex which has seen the creation of three new Supreme Court rooms to add to the main courtroom. This is in addition to the three new magistrates’ court rooms and coroner’s court due to be completed shortly.
As recorded last year, the increased Supreme Court rooms is complemented by having three, rather than two, full-time judges and the soon to be appointed fourth judge, initially a short-term appointment to clear mainly the criminal list. This will release the Chief Justice and the two other judges for civil business, especially to handle the burgeoning amount of commercial litigation, some complex, and including urgent, with and without notice, applications, which Gibraltar entertains on a regular basis: itself a reflection of Gibraltar’s growing importance in the business and finance world and the reliance placed worldwide on English common law and equity which are at the foundation of Gibraltar’s legal system.
Mr Dumas also referred to new legislation in various areas, most significantly in the diverse spheres of insolvency and crimes and criminal procedure. The former provides a modernised combined Act for corporate and personal insolvency, providing other routes for ailing businesses, a bonus to the many companies registered in Gibraltar and, equally, their creditors. Amongst other changes, the Act, soon to commence, includes a comprehensive and workable redrawing of the boundaries of voidable transactions. David Dumas had the benefit of working in the latter stages of Government drafting and consultation and was able to provide contributions in what is one of his areas of special interest.
Present at the proceedings were a number of distinguished guests including the, Governor Sir Adrian Johns, the Minister for Justice, Daniel Feetham, himself previously a partner at Hassans, and the Leader of the Opposition Fabian Picardo, still a partner at Hassans.
David Dumas went on to host the traditional Bar Lunch at which those and other guests attended.