Cayman Islands Seeking Constitutional Changes

December 24, 2018

Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin December 2018 The Cayman Islands has presented the UK with proposed constitutional changes and now await the UK’s response, Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin said, explaining that they seek “safeguards” to confirm that the UK “will not seek to legislate, directly or indirectly for the Cayman Islands without, at a minimum, consultation with the Cayman Islands Government.”

Speaking in the Cayman legislature, Premier McLaughlin said, “Last month I confirmed to members and the public that the UK had agreed to begin talks with the Cayman Islands on proposals for various safeguards to our Constitution.

“These talks did occur over two days in London: Friday, 7 December, 2018, and again on Monday, 10th at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO].

Saying that the “two days of talks went as well as one could have hoped, he added they were “constructive and fairly positive.”

“I wish to especially thank Sir Jeffrey Jowell, QC, for the excellent preparatory work done that allowed us to not only make an excellent case for reform but also for the clearly drafted proposals provided to the FCO prior to the talks. These made it easy for the UK to readily understand our position and to take a position themselves.

“I extend my gratitude as well to our own Attorney General for his excellent contribution and solid recommendations to our effort.

“As you know we sought these discussions in the aftermath of a breach of convention and possible constitutional overreach when in May this year the House of Commons legislated for the British Overseas Territories in the area of domestic policy.

“As all members of the House will know, responsibility for domestic policy has been devolved to the territories under the terms of their respective Constitution Orders made by Her Majesty in Privy Council.

“Contrary to longstanding convention, the UK Parliament sought to legislate for the territories in an area of devolved responsibility by attaching an amendment,” he said.

“This amendment requires the British Overseas Territories, but curiously not the Crown Dependencies, to establish public registers of beneficial ownership, and to do so no later than 31 December, 2020.

“Failing this, the amendment requires the UK Government to utilise an Order in Council to change local legislation to force the governments of the territories to implement public registers of beneficial ownership, effectively legislating directly on a matter that has been devolved to the local governments.

“This break in longstanding convention and overreach by the UK Parliament represents a line that once crossed cannot be uncrossed.

“The concern is therefore not just about beneficial ownership registers, but about what other areas of devolved authority the UK Parliament may feel it should interfere in without at least consulting with the Cayman Islands Government.

“The safeguards we seek will confirm that the Cayman Islands Government has autonomous capacity in respect of domestic affairs, and that the UK will not seek to legislate, directly or indirectly for the Cayman Islands without, at a minimum, consultation with the Cayman Islands Government.

“Prior to the meetings in London, as I mentioned before, the Government provided the FCO with proposed constitutional changes in draft form.

“These proposals were discussed with the Opposition prior to the trip to London and again with the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition while we were in London. I wish to thank the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy for their able assistance during the talks London.

“I also want to thank those on the Government bench who also ably assisted with the negotiations: the Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure and the Minister for Financial Services and Home Affairs.

“Not only did the country see before we left for London that Government and the Opposition both recognised the importance and necessity of the safeguards being sought, but in London the UK was presented with a solid Caymanian front, with the Premier and Opposition Leader, together with our delegation, sitting not on two separate sides, but united in the cause of defending our beloved Islands.

“In addition to addressing the principal concern mentioned earlier, the opportunity was also taken to seek a small number of administrative changes to the current Constitution Order to improve the operations of the local government and legislature.

“I am pleased to advise that by the end of the talks the majority of the proposed changes were agreed in principle whilst the remainder is still under consideration by the UK.

“UK officials listened and genuinely sought to be helpful whilst asserting that the UK’s interests and its ability to ultimately legislate for its territories must remain paramount. We are a British territory and so we understand this, but we argued our case hammering home the points we needed to make.

“The FCO team certainly did seek to understand our positions and provide suggestions to address the concerns where they thought they could.

“The UK has committed to formally responding to us in the coming weeks. This formal response will include a Draft Order in Council that will confirm the matters already agreed in principle and provide the UK’s proposals on how to address the matters that were left to be considered.

“Once the UK’s response and Draft Order in Council are acceptable to the Cayman Islands delegation, then the constitutional negotiations will be considered concluded and the proposed amendments, with Draft Order in Council, will be published and later debated in this Legislative Assembly.

“Following debate, and if approved by the Legislative Assembly, and subsequently by Her Majesty in Privy Council, the proposed changes are expected to come into effect in time for the 60th anniversary constitutional celebrations in July 2019.

“We now await the formal response from the UK Government,” the Cayman Premier added.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Pitts Bay says:

    Once again, we appear lacking when compared to our friends to the South.

  2. Kathy Cervino says:

    “This break in longstanding convention and overreach by the UK Parliament represents a line that once crossed cannot be uncrossed.”

    Why don’t we stop being so polite and just tell them to f@&k off, please!

    We will not open our registers to the public until the rest of the world, including the USA and the UK, is prepared to do the same.