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Cayman: Understanding the Judicial Review of the Governor’s Actions

On 20 November 2020, Justice Richard Williams sitting at the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands authorised the judicial review of the Governor’s implementation of the Civil Partnership Act via Section 81, which implementation had been done pursuant to instructions of the UK Secretary of State. Multiple requests by the press for information about the judicial review or a copy of the judgment were met with rejection by the court. A copy of the judgment was, however, eventually obtained from undisclosed sources and published by the press on Wednesday 21 January 2021. After the press publication, the judgment was made available on the Judicial website of the Cayman Islands.

Two fundamental questions arise from these facts and circumstances:

  • Why was the authorisation to proceed with the judicial review kept from the public?
  • Can a Cayman Islands judge review the Governor’s actions that were taken pursuant to written instructions of the UK Secretary of State?Let us address these two matters in turn by asking and answering a few key questions that will help put the facts and law straight.1. SECRECY OF JUDICIAL DECISIONS
  1. 1.1.  WHY IS IT THAT ONLY NOW, OVER 2 MONTHS AFTER THE DECISION OF JUSTICE WILLIAMS WAS MADE, WE ARE HEARING ABOUT ALL THIS?Thanks to the investigative journalism on this issue, which has elucidated this matter and made public Justice Williams’s decision. Justice Williams made clear in his judgment that there is public interest in this matter and articulates this as one of the main reasons for his decision. Nonetheless, his decision has been withheld from the public. Despite requests for copies of the decision, these were all rejected by the court.
  2. 1.2.  HOW DO WE KNOW THAT JUSTICE WILLIAMS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MATTER NOT TO HAVE BEEN MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL NOW? COULD IT NOT HAVE BEEN A MISCOMMUNICATION WITHIN THE COURT?No, it was without a doubt Justice Williams’s instruction not to make this matter available to the public. The Clerk of Court stated in writing on 14 January 2021 to the press that:“I reached out the judge who was presiding over the Leave Application and based on indications received from the judge, the ex parte application was not made available to the public.”Then, the Clerk of Court adds that as of 14 January 2021:“we have not be[en] granted permission to place any documents in relation to this matter on the public register at this time.”


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