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Justice Kipling Douglas






justice Kipling DouglasStanding six feet two and a half inches tall, Justice Kipling Douglas may be referred to as a giant of a man simply by virtue of his height and well-proportioned frame.

But the soft-spoken Legal Adviser for Cayman’s Financial Reporting Authority (FRA), is also said to be a gentle giant, because of his calm, easy-going manner, his more than twenty years of service in varying capacities in the legal fraternity here in the Cayman Islands, and his significant contributions to legal life in Jamaica and in other countries in
the Caribbean region as well.

For Mr Douglas, his crowning achievement in the legal fraternity has been election to the Executive Council of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association in 1985, as well as attaining the post of Vice President in 1991 and now Honorary Life Vice President for the Association.

And yet again, others may know the name Kipling Douglas because of his range of interests beyond the law. Journalist, editor, cricketer, motor racing rally winner and author are just some of the other things he has turned his hand to.

And yet again, others may know the name Kipling Douglas because of his range of interests beyond the law. Journalist, editor, cricketer, motor racing rally winner and author are just some of the other things he has turned his hand to. to become a Stipendiary Magistrate here.

For all the strength of his stature and of his achievements, Mr Douglas painted a picture of his early years as being beset with weaknesses in his health.

“I was very sickly as a child, suffering from frequent attacks of asthma,”
he recalled.

“My family moved from Clarendon, over to Christiana, in the parish of Manchester, when I was three years old. However, because of my asthma, I was sent from the cold climate of Christiana, over to Kingston, where it was definitely warmer, at the early age of six.”

Even in his early teen years, while attending the prestigious Wolmers Boys School in Kingston, Mr Douglas said his condition, “severely hampered my school attendance hence my slow progress at Wolmers. I did my sixth form, Senior Cambridge exams from Calabar High School, also in Kingston.”

However, right after school Mr Douglas took a break from academic life.

“I worked in the Civil Service in Jamaica for three years before heading
off to England in 1951 to study journalism and work for a while. It was not until I had started my Journalism in England, and my mother was on a visit to America, that she sent me a gift package containing a foam rubber pillow. That ended my attacks of asthma, and changed my life. It was my allergy to feathers that caused my illness,” he said.

“I returned home to Jamaica in 1954 and spent the next two years at the Daily Gleaner. After that I was Editor of theWest Indian Law Magazine and Assistant News Editor at Radio Jamaica.”

Kipling with his wife Leslie and son Mark
Justice Kipling in London with his wife Leslie and son Mark
But 1957 saw Mr Douglas heading back to England. This was because the love of his life – his wife, Leslie, with whom he will celebrate 48 years of marriage come 5 October – was destined for the UK.

“By that time Leslie had already completed a degree in Home Economics at McGill University in Canada. We had met in 1956 while she was working at the Bureau of Standards in Jamaica. We got married in 1957 in England. the UK.“In England, I joined the staff of the London County Council, working in the
Finance Division,” he said. “I had always wanted to do law. However, in those days Latin was a requirement. So, I studied the subject in the
evenings while at the Council. After two years, I passed the course and I was admitted to Middle Temple, a twelfth century institution, in 1960. By that time, our first child, Mark, was two years old.

“I completed my course in two and a half years and was called to the bar in 1963. We then returned to Jamaica where I began private practice and I had twenty fulfilling years in the legal fraternity while based in Jamaica.”

Among the highlights in these twenty years that followed, up to the time he left Jamaica for good in 1983, Mr Douglas includes the birth of their second child, daughter, Elizabeth, in 1964. He also includes a trophy won in 1967 for his win in a 370-mile motor rally in Jamaica. He also included his Chairmanship of the Juvenile Authority of Western Jamaica by 1972, Resident Magistrate for the parish of St James, promotion to Senior Resident Magistrate at the Half-Way-Tree Court in Kingston by 1978 and Chairman of the prestigious Liguanea Club.

“After starting off my full-time posting in Cayman in 1983 as a Stipendiary Magistrate, by 1988 I was promoted to Senior Stipendiary Magistrate,” Mr Douglas said. Throughout the years Mr Douglas has been a member of varying committees including the Drug Advisory Council. For a number of years he was Acting Grand Court Judge and Acting Chief Justice here in Cayman.

Since 1983, the only time the Douglas family have not lived in Cayman was between 1993 to 1996 when Mr Douglas filled the post of Chief Justice for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The son of a medical doctor and a mother who was a telegraph clerk, Justice Douglas is one of five children. One of his brothers is well known in Jamaican as a doctor, Professor Lawson Douglas, and who is also a visiting physician to the Cayman Islands.

His sister Lois, Lady Smith, is also a doctor and was head of the Health Service in Barbados until her retirement. Her husband Sir Frederick Smith was one of a two-man commission sent by the British Government to Cayman in 1990 to devise a new constitution for the Islands. “My baby brother is a Laboratory Technician in Canada and my other sister, now deceased, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, posted in Hong Kong,” he said.

Mr Douglas explained that he retired as Judge of the Grand Court in Cayman in 2000 and joined the FRA in January 2004 when it was formed. At 75, his hobbies include playing tennis, photography and philately. He is the author of the poetry books “Mother Buck and other verses” and “Age Quod Agis – A Story of Wolmers Boys School.”

However, the pride in Mr Douglas’ voice was most evident when he spoke of their classic car. “It is a 1970 Morris Minor and first belonged to Leslie’s mother. It is in good working order and it is the only one on the Island,” he said.



See also:
•  Douglas family in the West Indies




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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024