Conference addresses strata reform

Last week’s Stratagize conference brought together some of the finest minds in the legal, real estate and government sectors at Cayman’s first Strata conference, held 19 April at the Marriott Beachfront.

For stakeholders, it was a rare opportunity to learn about the current strata law and to ask questions about specific issues.

The conference clearly outlined the need for greater clarification about rights, conflicts, insurance concerns, board responsibilities and legal issues that beset the owners, managers, renters and other stakeholders of the 4,000-plus strata units in Cayman.

‘It’s clear to me that we need to take a holistic approach to the law’s revision. With over 500 stratas operating in Cayman, and more to come in the future, it is a perfect time to address the need for robust legislation that suits our unique situation,’ said Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts in his opening address.

He also announced the formation of a new Strata Titles Registration Law review committee.

‘The review committee will seek input from a variety of sectors that have vested interest in strata reform including government, the legal profession, insurance and banking industries, strata corporations, developers and property managers,’ said Mr. Tibbetts.

‘Their aim will be not only to improve the law but to modernize it so it is in step with what obtains in the Cayman Islands, now and in the future.’

Interest in the conference was unmistakable – organizers Appleby and co-sponsors Butterfield Bank, BCQS Property Management and Island Heritage Insurance were forced to turn away last-minute arrivals surpassing the 220-person capacity crowd.

For the array of panellists, it was an occasion to take a closer look at the current law and highlight some possible changes that might be made.

Adopting a storyline approach, conference panel members steered attendees through the strata process by first taking a retrospective look at the strata system in Cayman.

Appleby property associate Adam Geldard provided a historical overview of the law, while colleague and litigation associate Ward Sykes took the rapt audience through a comprehensive history of the law, and its implications for strata members in their day-to-day considerations and obligations.

Tim Hepburn of BCQS and Chris Johnson of Appleby then got to the nitty gritty of property management issues and the finer points of rental pools.

Guest speaker Michael Allen then provided a detailed examination of the evolution of New South Wales strata legislation over the last 27 years, on which Cayman’s legislation is based.

‘Hopefully, by analyzing our many amendments and false starts, Cayman may be able to leapfrog us in designing new legislation that fits the needs of today by keeping what’s good and making some wise changes,’ he said.

The afternoon also featured a look at lending from the banker’s perspective by Adrian Watkin of Butterfield Bank, an engaging presentation by Nigel Twohey of Island Heritage Insurance, and a look at strata development and conveyancing by Norman Klein of Appleby.

The day rounded off with a lively reception, and organizers are confident the capacity turnout spells more events of this kind in the not too distant future.

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