On 2 February 2021 Mrs Justice Ramsay-Hale of the Cayman Islands Grand Court delivered judgment in the matter of Andrade v. Frederick. Her judgment is of importance to the auto insurance industry and to personal injury claimants in motor vehicle accident cases in the Cayman Islands. After an exhaustive survey of the law and with meticulous reasoning, Judge Ramsay-Hale decided that s.17 of the Motor Vehicle Insurance (Third Party Risks) Law, 1990 (which prescribed a non-extendable limitation period of three years from the date of the accident for bringing proceedings) was very much still in force. Accordingly any claimant who delayed issuing proceedings for damages for three years after the date of the motor vehicle accident would be liable to have his or her action struck out, as no extension of that limitation was possible.
On 6 January 2011 the Plaintiff, Annette Andrade, was walking on the Arterial Bypass in Newlands, Grand Cayman, when she was struck by a car driven by the Defendant, Patrice Leanne Frederick. Ms Andrade’s then attorney failed to issue the writ within three years from the date of the accident as required by s.17 but issued it later. Hampson and Company as Ms Frederick’s attorney applied to the Grand Court for the action to be struck out for failure to comply with the strict time limit imposed by s.17. An obstacle in the way of Ms Frederick’s application was the judgment of Mr Justice McMillan of the Cayman Islands Grand Court in Bennett v. Diaz delivered 28 January 2020 (now reported at 2020 (1) CILR 382) which had decided – after substantial argument by local counsel – that s.17 had been repealed by the later Limitation Law 1991 which permitted the Court to grant an extension of time for issuing proceedings. In that case too, the attorney had failed to issue proceedings within the three-year time limit.
In the normal way, since the matter before her raised the same point, Mrs Justice Ramsay-Hale would be bound to follow the judgment in Bennett v. Diaz and allow the Ms Andrade’s action to continue. The learned Judge did not, however, follow Bennett v. Diaz. She pointed out that she had had the benefit of extensive research into the background of the respective Laws provided by senior London counsel, Isaac E. Jacob of 9 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, and local attorneys, Hampson and Company, instructing him, and had been cited critical legislation which had not been provided to Mr Justice McMillan. She was not therefore bound by the judgment in Bennett v. Diaz it being given per incuriam, i.e. that relevant legislation and the legislative history had not been brought to the Court’s attention.
Accordingly, having held that s.17 of the Vehicle Insurance (Third Party Risks) Act (2012 Revision) (as it now is), was in force and that the Writ having not been issued within three years of the accident, Judge Ramsay-Hale struck out Ms Andrade’s action with costs.
The judgment in Andrade v. Frederick resolves confusion that arose as to the application of the three-year limitation period under s.17 following the decision in Bennett v. Diaz.
The foregoing discussion and analysis is for general information purposes only and not intended to be relied upon for legal advice in any specific or individual situation.
If you would like further information on the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in the Cayman Islands, please contact Paul Keeble of Hampson and Company, Apollo House East, Fourth Floor, 87 Mary Street, George Town, P.O. Box 698 Grand Cayman KY1-1107.