30 Sep 2022

Cayman Islands plans new arbitration venue on Grand Cayman in Canadian joint venture

Cayman International Mediation and Arbitration Centre and Toronto’s Arbitration Place to open new facilities in October

An aerial view of boats moored at Starfish Point on Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman Shutterstock

The Cayman International Mediation and Arbitration Centre (CIMAC) and Toronto’s Arbitration Place are joining forces to open a new arbitration venue on the Cayman Islands.

The new facilities are located in George Town on Grand Cayman, with CIMAC running the state-of-the-art centre and Arbitration Place providing technology and case management support.

It will offer both virtual and physical hearings, with Arbitration Place providing hybrid hearings during the pandemic with London's IDRC and Singapore's Maxwell Chamber. The new centre is set to open in October.

Megan Paget-Brown, CEO of CIMAC, said: "Our goal with this joint venture is to help develop the Cayman Islands into a well-recognised seat and venue for international and domestic arbitration and mediation in the Caribbean, the Americas and beyond," citing the offshore jurisdiction's financial services and legal industries, supportive judiciary and infrastructure as positives.

Jeffrey Mandell, CEO of Arbitration Place, said the centre would offer "best-in-class hearing facilities and providing concierge-level support, and much more – an all-encompassing approach where hospitality, technology and legal expertise meet."

Arbitration Place founder Kimberley Stewart added that it was moving forward with a pre-pandemic expansion strategy into the Americas and the Caribbean.

Andrew Pullinger, a partner at Campbells, called it "a very welcome addition" to the islands. He said: "Dispute resolution in Cayman has historically been heavily weighted toward litigation; however, that is changing and practitioners are looking forward to making use of the Centre's purpose-designed facilities on the George Town waterfront."

Clients and lawyers alike "can now be confident that Cayman is a suitable and sophisticated jurisdiction in which to seat and hold arbitrations and mediations whatever their subject matter, value and size," Pullinger said.  

He added that both the Cayman Islands’ government and judiciary supported arbitration, with a post-pandemic shift in policy accentuating the use of alternative dispute resolution. The Cayman Islands’ chief justice had recently issued a practice direction providing for judicial mediation of a wide range of civil and commercial disputes.

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Walkers' Shelly White, a disputes partner, said the firm "eagerly awaits the opportunity to make use of it for the benefit of our clients", calling it "another string to the Cayman Islands’ bow as one of the leading offshore jurisdictions."

Arbitra International's Calvin Hamilton, known for his support of arbitration in the Caribbean, said the new enterprise represents the latest manifestation of the international arbitration infrastructure being moulded in the Caribbean as the dispute resolution mechanism of choice for international transactions.

He said: "Jurisdictions in the Caribbean have adopted the Model Law, while others are in the process of so doing. Most jurisdictions have acceded to the New York Convention."

With regional increased capacity-building activities, including training and legal education programmes, the new centre was "further assured that the Caribbean [has] arbitration-friendly jurisdictions,” Hamilton added.

Barry Leon of Arbitration Place and 33 Bedford Row agreed, saying it would complement the BVI International Arbitration Centre and other centres locally. 

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