Sidebar:  First premier loses post 

Cayman’s Bill of Rights cases

Between 6 November, when Cayman’s Bill of Rights came into effect, and the end of the year, two cases were filed with the Grand Court Civil Registry on the basis of section 13 of the 2009 Constitution.

The first 28 sections of the Constitution comprise the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities. Section 13 deals with freedom of movement and both cases ask the court to review a decision involving an immigration matter.

In November, Attorney Dennis Brady applied for permission to apply for a judicial review of a decision by an immigration officer refusing a request for the retaking of the mandatory English test.

In December, Attorney Clyde Allen applied for permission to apply for a judicial review of a decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. Mr. Allen’s client had applied for permanent residency and was turned down on the basis that he needed 100 points to qualify, but had only 91.

Documents filed with the courts office indicate that the client considered the method of awarding points to be wholly arbitrary and without transparency; without understanding how such points are awarded, he was limited in his ability to challenge any such award.

It was not known at press time when these applications would be dealt with.

Finance law passes

Changes to the Cayman Islands Public Management and Finance Law that incorporate a United Kingdom-drafted fiscal framework plan were finally approved in November by lawmakers.

A third version of amendments to the law, which essentially copied and pasted the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility into a schedule of the finance law, was approved by a majority of Legislative Assembly members.

That approval did not include then-backbench MLAs Ellio Solomon, Cline Glidden Jr. and Dwayne Seymour. However, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush’s government was able to pass the bill with assistance of opposition party members, who supported the measure.

If the Cayman Islands breaches the Framework for Responsibility, it must present a plan to correct such a breach to the UK Secretary of State, which will be reflected in the government’s annual Strategic Policy Statement.

Government estimates show the Cayman Islands’ total public sector debt will remain well above $500 million by mid-2014, despite payments of more than $30 million per year until then.
Stamp duty change

Cayman Islands lawmakers approved a bill that will make property transfers in all areas of the territory subject to a uniform stamp duty rate of 7.5 per cent, with exemptions for first-time Caymanian buyers.

At the moment, a 7.5 per cent stamp duty rate applies to property in premium areas of Grand Cayman, such as downtown or along the Seven Mile Beach corridor. Non-Caymanians pay 6 per cent for property in other areas of the Islands, while Caymanians pay 4 per cent.

Under existing law, first-time Caymanian buyers pay no duty when purchasing land valued up to $50,000 or homes up to $200,000. First-time Caymanian buyers pay 2 per cent duty on land from $50,000 to $75,000 or homes from $200,000 to $300,000.

According to the bill passed by lawmakers during the Legislative Assembly session Monday, 26 November, stamp duty will be 7.5 per cent on transfers throughout the Cayman Islands regardless of immigration status.

While stamp duty rates are going up overall, exemptions have been broadened for first-time Caymanian buyers, who will pay no duty for land up to $100,000 or homes up to $300,000, and will pay 2 per cent duty on land from $100,000 to $150,000 or homes from $300,000 to $400,000.