Outgoing Chief Justice Ian Kawaley was commended for pressing Bermuda’s judiciary and legal fraternity to improve standards.

Speaking at a special sitting of the Supreme Court on Friday, members of Bermuda’s legal community gathered to pay tribute to the man who

Bermuda’s Ombudsman, Victoria Pearman, who spoke a bit longer than most, said Justice Kawaley “pressed us to improve our standards”.

“You pushed us to want to do things better. You have encouraged us to lead the way to receive the rigour of international standards without losing ourselves,” she said.

Lawyer Saul Froomkin, QC, a former Attorney General  said Justice Kawaley’s departure marked both a “sad and a special day”. 

“Sad because we are losing you — your wisdom, your experience, your kindness,” he said.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Larry Mussenden who commended Justice Kawaley for his “stellar service” added: “We will be for ever grateful for your service as counsel, judge, and Chief Justice.”

President of the Bermuda Bar Association, Karen Williams-Smith noted that in Justice Kawaley’s “six short years on the bench” collectively she said: “We have seen sound judgments, fair hearings of extreme research and preparation by you on each case by attorneys that appeared before you.

“We have been comforted by the judiciary and our legal system and its progression, all while you were at the helm,” she added.

Lawyer Charles Richardson, another lawyer, thanked Justice Kawaley for helping him find his path in law.

As a “desperate” young man at Westgate in 1995 he said: “The world wouldn’t have heard of Charles Richardson if it wasn’t for you.”

He also noted that the outgoing Chief Justice should be remembered as a public servant “who rolled up his sleeves to touch people’s lives”.

Justice Kawaley took the bench as Bermuda’s Chief Justice in April 2012, to replace Sir Richard Ground.

His groundbreaking rulings over the years include a judgment handed down during the same year he was appointed, which upheld the rights of parents to have a say on teacher transfers in the public school system.

Two years later in 2014, he handed down a ruling that paved the way for some Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders to gain Bermuda status.

And last month, in June, he upheld a constitutional challenge against the Domestic Partnership Act.

That judgment declared parts of the legislation which revoked marriage equality invalid.

Justice Kawaley was called to the Bermuda Bar in 1980.

The new Chief Justice, Narinder Hargun, will be sworn in at Government House on Monday.