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Chief Justice poised to step down next year

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley is to step down next year after more than five years as the island’s top Supreme Court judge.

Mr Justice Kawaley replaced Sir Richard Ground in April 2012 after a distinguished career in the commercial courts.

His time as Chief Justice has seen several groundbreaking rulings such as the decision that cleared the way for some Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders to gain Bermuda status.

Mr Justice Kawaley has also been a strong advocate of modernisation of the court system.

He also used diplomacy with lawyers upset that English barrister Rory Field remained as Director of Public Prosecutions over a Bermudian candidate.

Angry island barristers staged a walkout at a ceremony to mark the opening of the 2015 legal year.

Mr Justice Kawaley’s decisions also included a 2012 judgment that upheld the rights of parents to have a say on teacher transfers in the education system.

The decision halted an unpopular bid to move two principals to other schools.

The Chief Justice also ruled on other controversial cases.

He ruled in favour of Government’s takeover of governance of the Corporation of Hamilton in 2015 and backed a bid by The Royal Gazette to publish affidavits in relation to the scuppered Hamilton Waterfront deal later that year.

Other landmark judgments included the “Bermuda Bred” case in which the court supported the rights of people in same-sex partnerships with Bermudians to live in Bermuda and look for employment.

Mr Justice Kawaley also backed legal aid applications for people in prison awaiting trial

He also allowed the island’s 2016 referendum on same-sex marriage to go ahead despite arguments the vote would breach the constitution, the Human Rights Act and common law.

Mr Justice Kawaley upheld the ban order on controversial American speaker Ayo Kimathi and said the content of a talk delivered on the island constituted hate speech.

He also backed the AME church’s legal action earlier this year against a refusal by the Minister of Home Affairs to grant a work permit for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed

The Royal Gazette understands that Mr Justice Kawaley is not due to depart the island until the summer.

Mr Justice Kawaley was called to the Bermuda Bar in 1980.

He divided his time in the early part of his career among Bermuda, the Seychelles and London.

As Sir Richard boosted the stature of the island’s commercial courts, Mr Justice Kawaley was closely involved in commercial litigation and insolvency law.

A successor to Mr Justice Kawaley has not yet been announced.