Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to Northern Ireland-born barrister known as 'the world's nicest judge'

Respected: Justice Charles Quin
Respected: Justice Charles Quin
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A barrister from Northern Ireland who became a leading figure in the Cayman Islands' judicial system was once referred to as "the world's nicest judge".

Justice Charles Quin QC died on June 7 after battling cancer at his home in the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory.

He became one of the most respected figures in the legal profession there, notably working on a case that uncovered a financial scandal linked to former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

Born in the Co Down village of Magheralin in 1950, Mr Quin later attended Bangor Grammar School and studied law at Queen's University Belfast. The Times newspaper reported that at 15 he was offered a trial by Port Vale FC, which his mother turned down as she would only consider Manchester United - although that call never came.

He was called to the bar in Northern Ireland in 1978, the same year he married physiotherapist Diana Robinson.

She survives him along with their three sons - Nicholas, Thomas and William.

In 1981 Mr Quin left for Bermuda where his brother was working as a lawyer before relocating to the Cayman Islands.

After several years working in the litigation department of a local firm, he set up on his own with Paget-Brown Quin & Hampson. His family said this period was the happiest of his career before he became a judge.

As a British territory and an offshore banking centre, the Cayman Islands became known for complex litigation cases involving billions of dollars.

In 1997 the Irish High Court Judge Brian McCracken sought Mr Quin's help to examine claims Charles Haughey had an offshore bank account and received secret payments from businessmen of £1.3m between 1987 and 1991.

Strict secrecy laws on banking meant Mr Quin could not get a court order to compel witnesses to testify, but he was still able to secure enough information to prove that Mr Haughey had lied about taking the money.

He was made a QC in 2004 and a judge of the Cayman Grand Court four years later.

In 2007 he was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer and received further cancer treatment in the UK last year.

He returned to the Cayman Islands to retire when he was told the illness had become incurable.

His friend, Michael Todd QC, said clients felt he really cared about their case and "they had a lot of respect and faith in him".

In January the Chief Justice of the Grand Court, Anthony Smellie, thanked him for his contribution to the Cayman Islands' community and said he fully deserved the title of "the world's nicest judge".

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