Dating back as far as 1798, there is evidence of the appointment of Justices of the Peace by the Governor of Jamaica on behalf of the British Crown, to administer public affairs in the Cayman Islands. This arrangement was the forerunner to today’s judiciary.
In 1811, the post of Clerk of Courts was established. In 1898, a transition took place that saw the powers of the Custos vested in a Commissioner, who combined administrative duties with those of a Judge of the Grand Court.
In 1957, a Stipendary Magistrate was appointed to perform all judicial and legal functions, which included all matters laid before the Court of Petty Session with the exception of capital offences.
Further changes took place in 1975 with the appointment of a Judge of the Grand Court (upon constitution of the Court in its modern form) and a Magistrate. At this time the Grand Court was upgraded to supreme court status, summary courts replaced the petty sessions and a Juvenile Court was established. The following year, a Chief Justice was appointed in accordance with the Grand Court Law of 1975.
The final and most recent change in constitution of the local courts took place in 1984, with the establishment of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal to exercise an appellate jurisdiction formerly held by the Jamaican Court. Hence forth all judicial proceedings could be heard within the Cayman Islands, subject to a possible final appeal to the Privy Council in London.