At a certain stage of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Jack Sparrow is heard – a little non-sequiturally – to mumble the Latin phrase, ‘Res ipsa loquitur’.
Directly translated, this means ‘the thing speaks for itself’; in other words, the facts are bare; it’s obvious; there is no decision to be made.
It’s a concept that may be invoked by supporters or opponents of the East End Seaport.
Those in favour point to an economic study conducted by Deloitte. Phase one – the excavation – would contribute US$182.6 million to the Cayman Islands economy between 2011 and 2017.
The seven-year project would create 204 jobs, 179 of them Caymanian; another 86 would be created indirectly.
Phase two constructs a cruise ship home port; a cargo port, a transshipment point, a mega yacht facility, a hotel and a fuel storage area, moving the tanks from their current rather precarious position near several local schools.
Opponents accuse developers of simply, sneakily snake-oiling a quarry project which would yield 14 to 15 million cubic yards of valuable fill, thus selling-off the Cayman Islands literally underneath the feet of the people.
Further, it could contaminate a nearby fresh water lens; storm surges would be disastrous – and there is no guarantee the developer would proceed with phase two development.
The George Town cargo facility is running perfectly well with a dwindling population to serve; because of Cayman’s geographical position, mega yachts are unlikely to be berthed here, and if the fuel storage tanks are moved the stuff will still need to be piped around the island anyway.
Res ipsa loquitur is also invoked by lawyers in the common law of negligence: even if there is no direct evidence of how a defendant behaved, the elements of duty of care and breach can be inferred from the nature of the accident itself.
That the plaintiff suffered harm due purely to the accident is proof enough as the facts allow no other conclusion.
Is it negligent to stand by, ask pro-porters, and accede to self-serving nimbyism while cruise ships continue to delete Cayman from their cruise schedules, while other jurisdictions create jobs and wealth through untapped freeport industries, while the cargo port clogs traffic and works all night?
While Cayman gets left behind in the rush for the tourist and transshipment dollar?
Or is it, as no-quarriers counter, negligent to fecklessly and avariciously chomp a voracious chunk from the side of a paradise 2 by 4 island, wrecking the natural and unspoilt beauty of one of the last pieces of undeveloped territory of Cayman forever, possibly poisoning a nearby fresh water lens and arable land by allowing a development to occur in which there are no guarantees aside from a grubby great hole, which may or may not one day have things built on it?
The crux of it boils down to this: who does Cayman belong to anyway?
The case of East End Seaport is, perhaps, a simple question of who the defendant and the plaintiff are; as for the fear and loathing, we don’t need to bother with that right now.