The court battle over plans for a referendum on a planned cruise port in Cayman is set to go ahead via video-link on 6 May.
The two-day hearing is expected to involve leading counsel for both parties making their arguments, via video-link from their homes in the UK, to a panel of Court of Appeal judges, who will also appear via video-link from the UK.
The hearing was scheduled before restrictions on gatherings and other measures to suppress the spread of the coronavirus were put in place. The date of the hearing was published recently on the Judicial Administration website.
Kate McClymont, a lawyer representing Shirley Roulstone of the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman group, said she had been advised that the appeal would go ahead as planned, with measures in place to ensure social distancing.
“The current intention is for one attorney for each party and one member of judicial administration to attend in person at the court house in Cayman,” she said.
It is possible that this could change depending on what measures are in place at the time of the case, she added.
The Court of Appeal has published its hearing schedule on the judicial website, listing the Cabinet of the Cayman Islands and the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands as the appellants, and Shirley Elizabeth Roulstone and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands as the respondents in the case. The schedule indicates plans for a two-day hearing starting 6 May.
Roulstone, a leading member of CPR Cayman, won a judgment earlier this year preventing the referendum from taking place under the framework the Cayman Islands government had set out in its bespoke referendum law for the cruise port vote.
Her lawyers highlighted concerns that the law included no restrictions on campaign financing or using public funds to sway the vote, among other issues. They argued that the wording of the Constitution indicates there must be an overarching law setting out the rules and regulations for referendums to ensure an equal chance of success for both sides.
Grand Court Justice Timothy Owen agreed with some of those points and struck down the law in February. Government filed its appeal in March and argued, among other things, that Owen had breached the ‘separation of powers’ between the judiciary and the legislature when he had moved to strike down the law.
Asked about the appeal at a press conference Wednesday, Premier Alden McLaughlin said he had not been made aware of the schedule and would need to take advice from Attorney General Samuel Bulgin before answering.