Group seeks judicial review over beach access

Members of the Concerned Citizens Group and supporters gather outside court on Thursday. - Photo: Andrel Harris

A group of citizens seeking a judicial review over public access to beaches in the Cayman Islands will have to wait at least five weeks before finding out if a judge will give them leave to pursue legal action against government.

A directions hearing on the application for leave for a judicial review was held in Justice Robert McMillan’s’ chambers, in private, on Thursday morning, to the dismay of some two dozen people who had shown up hoping to attend the proceedings.

“We regret that you were not able to come in today,” attorney Bilika Simamba, who is representing applicant Alice May Coe, told the group after the hearing. “The judge basically ruled that this was a directions hearing, that there was no substance, and it was not necessary [for the hearing to be held in open court].”

Coe was also denied access to hearing the proceedings, an issue Simamba said was a result of “miscommunication” and would not happen when the hearing resumes.

“As to what happened today, we have made some progress,” he said. “The judge has given the government 21 days to respond to our application. Then we will have 14 days to respond to that application. Thereafter, a one-day hearing will be heard for the actual application for leave.”

The outcome of the one-day hearing will determine if a judicial review can proceed. No date has yet been set for that.

The judicial review application, brought by the Concerned Citizens Group, which includes Coe, Ezmie Smith, Annie Multon and others, revolves around the government’s Registrar of Lands’ decision not to register more than 200 historic rights of way to the beach.
Members of the group and supporters gathered outside the court while the hearing was under way. Katina Anglin, a vocal supporter of the application, who was in attendance, was one of several supporters who voiced their concerns about the ongoing matter.

“There will be more [people] coming next time,” said Anglin. “We have an interest in this. We are the public and that is our property, and this won’t be no Gabby singing ‘Jack don’t want me bathe on my beach.’”

The Cayman Compass earlier reported that, as far back as 2003, the Concerned Citizens Group had filed 500 affidavits from members of the public in an effort to officially register the paths.

The affidavits attest that the paths had been used for more than 20 years as walkways to the ocean. The group contends that this makes them public rights of way that should be registered and protected from encroachment and development.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the matter was heard in the Chambers of Justice Timothy Owens.