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Cayman Islands Referendum Law held unconstitutional

Related Member(s):
Chris Buttler
Related Practice Area(s):
Public and Private International Law

The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands today ruled that legislation providing for the holding of a referendum on a controversial cruise ship terminal was unconstitutional.  Chris Buttler acted for the successful plaintiff, instructed by Kate McClymont at Broadhurst Attorneys. The cruise terminal was the biggest story in the Cayman Islands in 2019.

The Hon Justice Timothy Owen QC (Actg) held that “Section 70 of the Constitution confers a direct democratic right on the people to veto the policy choices of their democratic representatives” and “allowing the democratic representatives to change the ground rules every time there is a referendum risks the rules being changed to promote their policy choice” (para 64). The Referendum Law breached that requirement because it related solely to the cruise terminal referendum. The Judge held that the Port Referendum Law had created “an unequal playing field which was heavily stacked in favour of the Government side to an extent which endangered the right to a fair and effective vote” (para 64).

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