Civil Actions in Court
Civil Proceedings worth over CI$20,000.00 (US$24,390.00) are dealt with by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. The Grand Court deals with most disputes relating to contracts, Trusts and breach of duties e.g. negligence in the Civil Division or the Financial Services Division depending on the nature and value of the dispute. Civil litigation in the Cayman Islands involves the commencement of an action by an aggrieved party setting out the nature of the claim made and who it is made against. There are procedures for both parties to set out the facts and law applicable to the dispute, provide documentary and witness evidence and then have a trial of the issue, which in all civil cases, other than fraud, is by Judge alone. There may be rights of appeal of the decision made.
Arbitration is a mechanism of binding dispute resolution that entails resolving disputes outside the courts in accordance with methods and rules, chosen by the parties, which may be legal or non-legal. The parties may agree, in advance of a dispute arising by incorporation an appropriate clause into a contract, that arbitration will be used as the way to resolve any disputes arising in that contract. The Cayman Islands Court will give effect to such a contractual choice by staying Court Proceedings brought in breach of a contract where there exists an arbitration clause. Arbitration may also be chosen after the dispute has arisen by parties to a dispute that favour the control and confidentiality than can be achieved.
The Arbitration Law, 2012 (the "Law") provides an unitary regime of arbitration based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The Law is expressly founded on the principles of obtaining a fair resolution of disputes by an impartial tribunal, avoiding undue delay or expense, granting the parties maximum autonomy, subject only to safeguards in the public interest and limited judicial intervention. The Law also provides for confidentiality of the arbitration and any following court proceedings in a way that is more extensive than most other jurisdictions.
Mediation is a method of dispute resolution that is a voluntary process in which an impartial third party assists two or more parties involved in a dispute to create and agree upon their own terms of settlement. It differs from the Civil Actions in Court and Arbitration in that no third party imposes a binding resolution on the parties. Mediation resolutions can include terms that would never result from other dispute resolution methods, such as agreements for future business or some form of apology by one party to the other. The process is usually very limited in regards to documents and other evidence produced and is designed to be cost effective and totally confidential. The end result should be a written agreement between the parties as to the terms of the resolution they have reached between them.
There is no provision, currently, in the Cayman Islands Court rules for Court mandated alternative dispute resolution, with consequent costs consequences for failure to comply. However, mediation is growing as a way to resolve disputes in the Cayman Islands and there exists The Cayman Islands Association of Mediators and Arbitrators ("CIAMA") http://www.ciama.ky.