Ramon Alberga, Queen’s Counsel, has
appeared before every chief justice of the Cayman Islands since the resident
post was created in 1964. Now his portrait will be displayed in the foyer of
the Law Courts Building along with pictures of judges of the Grand Court and
Court of Appeal. He is the only non-judge to be so honoured.
Mr. Alberga’s portrait was unveiled
in a surprise postscript to the formal opening of Grand Court last Wednesday.
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie explained to an audience of over 100 lawyers,
legislators, guests and court staff that 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of Mr.
Alberga’s call to the Bar. A citation on the portrait’s frame salutes him as Father
of the Bar, Lawyer’s Lawyer and Friend of the Court.
The senior attorney retired from
practice last year, but continues to serve as consulting editor of the Cayman
Islands Law Reports.
Although the portrait and its
presentation were a complete surprise, Mr. Alberga responded with his customary
mix of humour and insightful observations.
He said he was glad to have
survived long enough to hear the words of praise in person rather than have
them said in his obituary.
He has attended all Grand Court
openings since Chief Justice Sir Denis Malone started holding them in the early
1990s and all had been happy occasions.
The first 25 years of his career
were in Jamaica, the last 35 years in Cayman. Whether other attorneys had
appeared with him or against him, they had become valued associates and
friends, he said.
“I have seen a most monumental and
significant development in the administration of justice,” Mr. Alberga
commented. It gave him great satisfaction to say of the judges currently
serving, that the present bench is the strongest, largest, most knowledgeable
and greatest collection of jurists the Cayman Islands has ever had.
This had arisen under the
leadership of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie and Mr. Alberga expressed confidence
that it would continue to be so for a long time.
He asked all present to continue to
give judges support, recognition and thanks. The Cayman Islands Law Reports, a
collection of their written judgments, are so well regarded because of the
judges’ hard work, Mr. Alberga concluded.