The draft Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, dated 10 February, 2009, was finalised on 5 February, 2009, between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands constitution delegation, comprising representatives of the elected Government and the Opposition as well as various non-governmental organisations.
The Draft Constitution is intended to be a modern Constitution for the Cayman Islands and to replace the current Cayman Islands (Constitution) Order 1972 (as amended).
The Referendum (Constitutional Modernisation) Bill, 2009 (as amended) was recently passed by the Legislative Assembly in the Cayman Islands on 23 February, 2009. It must now be consented to by the Governor of the Islands and published in the Official Gazette in order to become law.
The Referendum Bill makes provision for the first referendum in the Cayman Islands to be held on 20 May, 2009. Voters will be asked to vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question:
‘Do you approve the Draft Constitution, which was agreed by the Cayman Islands Constitution Delegation and the Government of the United Kingdom on 5 February, 2009, and tabled in the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands on 11 February, 2009?’
The Referendum Bill requires approval by a majority of those who vote in the referendum. While not legally binding, the outcome will be a vital indicator of voter support or disapproval of the draft constitution. The next elected Government will then be responsible for pursuing either (i) its issuance by Her Majesty in Council or (ii) further public consultation on the Constitutional modernisation process.
With the aim of informing the public and the legal profession, the Caymanian Bar Association will issue a series of upcoming articles and press releases that consider the implications of various aspects of the draft constitution including: (1) the bill of rights, (2) branches of government and (3) new offices and commissions.