“In the circumstances of this case we can understand why the judge reached the decision that he did. These included what were from a legal point of view false starts by the Government in relation to settling the referendum question and date before enacting the Port Referendum Law, and evidence on the substantive matters relied on by the Respondent which the judge considered (see  above) provided considerable support for the argument that “an unequal playing field which was heavily stacked in favour of the Government side” had been created. They also included an apparent failure [by Government] to consult the Constitutional Commission before deciding how to respond to this the first people-initiated referendum and a background of very surprising non-responsiveness [by Government] to two significant and highly relevant documents prepared by the Commission. However, for the reasons set out in Part V, we have been driven to conclude that this appeal must be allowed. …”
Court of Appeal
(CMR) Earlier this morning July 2, 2020 the Court of Appeal set aside the earlier decision of Justice Tim Owen Q.C., Acting Judge of the Grand Court in the judicial review proceedings brought by the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman Group. The appeal and original application were brought by CPR member, Shirley Roulstone.
The original decision of the Grand Court was handed down on February 19, 2020, and was seen as a landmark challenge against the Cayman Islands Government. The challenge was made on the basis that the government had erred in several respects as it sought to push through the Port Referendum bill which eventually became the law. The group argued that the government had designed the process to be favorable to their desired outcome.
The Court of Appeal indicated the lower court's decision had gone too far in finding that the Port Referendum Law was unconstitutional, however, they understood why the judge reached his decision. Despite that, the government won its appeal.
CPR indicated that whilst the outcome of this Court of Appeal decision was disappointing their overall objective of standing up to the government and having them reconsider the entire process was a success. Roulstone shared:
Many have shared that as a result of this challenge the port project was delayed and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout on the cruise industry, it may have been a blessing in disguise.
The CPR Group had received a protective cost order which meant that Roulstone would be saved from having to pay any legal costs in the event that she lost.