Cayman Islands Government has been served with notice that a judicial review could be filed with relation to Cabinet’s decision to proceed with the cruise port development.
A letter from lawyer Chris Narborough on behalf of a group referred to as “concerned citizens,” seen by the Cayman Compass, also lists several groups, including the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the Chamber of Commerce, as potential interested parties in supporting legal action.
The letter to Premier Alden McLaughlin and his deputy, Moses Kirkconnell, a legal precursor to a judicial review process, seeks to establish if and when the final decision to proceed with the dock was made.
The date of the decision is crucial to any legal action.
A similar attempt by concerned citizens to block the closure of West Bay Road to make way for the Kimpton hotel failed because the application for judicial review was not filed within strict time limits from the date of the decision.
The two main groups that have campaigned against the port, Sustainable Cayman and Save Cayman, denied any current association with the proposed legal action.
The Chamber of Commerce, listed as a potential litigant in the letter, distanced itself from any involvement. Wil Pineau, chief executive officer of the Chamber, said, “The matter was raised at our meeting this week. That was the first time we had seen the letter.”
The letter, filed by Cayman Law, states that the firm is instructed by a group calling themselves “Concerned Caymanians.”
It cites the premier’s announcement that Cabinet had formally approved the decision to move to the next phase of the cruise pier development as the “final decision” to go ahead with the project.
Mr. Narborough writes that the letter should be treated as a “letter before action,” the precursor to a judicial review.
It states that in a legal action, the clients would seek to advance one of three arguments:
The consultation process leading up to the decision was not open and fair;
That government had pre-determined that the cruise pier development would be built whatever the evidence may be;
That the decision to proceed is not rational, proportionate or in the public interest and would risk significant adverse environmental and commercial impacts.
The letter states, “Our client is asking for the government to reverse its decision to proceed with the cruise pier development and to consider other ways that are less damaging to the environment to develop the cruise ship industry in these islands. In the meantime our client requests that you confirm that no further steps be taken by the government in progressing with the cruise pier development.”
Submitted with the letter is a list of questions relating to the decision and the consultation process, along with a request for answers within 14 days.
Keith Sahm of the protest group Save Cayman said the group had nothing to do with the action, but had been copied in on the letter, along with other groups including the Chamber and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
“Would I support it? From what I read in the copy of the letter, most definitely,” he said. “I think everyone that was mentioned in the paper have been in the Compass as showing concerns for the movement forward of the cruise berthing facility, the destruction of the reefs and the impact on the carrying capacity and sustainable tourism product here in the Cayman Islands.”
No one from the tourism ministry had responded to requests for comment as of press time.