Grand Court Judge Richard Williams has denied instructing court staff to withhold from the public documents relating to a judicial review of Governor Martyn Roper’s use of his constitutionally granted reserved power.

Justice Richard Williams. Photo: file

Williams’ comments contradict previous statements from senior court staff, who said they were ordered to keep the documents from the public domain.

The documents in question include a writ filed by Kattina Anglin and Williams’ subsequent ruling on the writ. The writ claimed Roper acted outside the scope of the powers granted to him in Section 81 of the Constitution last year when he pushed through the Civil Partnership Bill.

Between October 2020 and January 2021, the Cayman Compass requested several times, in person and via email, access to both the application itself and the subsequent judgement.  Each time Cayman Compass was told the documents were not to be made public.

Application for judicial review 

An application for judicial review of the governor’s use of his reserved power was filed by Anglin on 28 Oct. 2020.

- Advertisement -

Anglin, of the Christian Association for Civics, filed the application on the grounds that Roper’s use of his reserved power in this case was ‘unlawful’ and ‘irrational’.

Williams heard the ex parte (meaning ‘on behalf of one party’) application on 17 Nov.

On 14 Jan., Clerk of Court Shiona Allenger, in an email to media, said the documents were not to be made public.

“…we have not [been] granted permission to place any documents in relation to this matter on the public register at this time”, she said.

Furthermore, she stated she had “reached out [to] the judge who was presiding over the Leave Application and based on indications received from the judge, the ex parte application was not made available to the public”.

In a statement issued by Judicial Administration on Tuesday, 2 Feb., Williams refuted these claims.

He first stated that it was not accurate that he had been consulted by the clerk of courts regarding the application being made public. He added it was also inaccurate that he had indicated the application should not be made public.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Justice Williams was not consulted and he gave no such direction,” the statement reads.

It confirms that the application was not placed on the Public Register “because it was ex parte in nature and in keeping with what is often done in such cases”.

However, it then states that this is a case of “genuine public interest [and] ought not to have been embargoed in any way without an order from the judge, and no such order was made”.

On 22 Jan. 2021, Williams ordered that the ex parte application be placed upon the Public Register, where it appears dated 28 Oct. 2020 despite the document not having been made available at that time.

Justice Williams’ ruling 

The second document in question is Williams’ reserved written judgment on Anglin’s application for judicial review, which was handed down on 20 Nov.

In his written ruling, Williams approved Anglin’s application and gave the green light for the judicial review to proceed on the basis of Anglin’s first ground for review, which states that, “The Governor erred in law by using section 81 to enact the [Civil Partnership (Act).”

The ground also claimed, “The CPL is beyond the scope of the Governor’s responsibility as defined by section 55 of the Constitution.”

Although Williams’ written ruling was handed down on 20 Nov., it was not made public on the Judicial Administration website’s registry until two months later – by then it had already been uploaded to the UK Privy Council’s website and made public.

The recent statement from Judicial Administration says it had been “inadvertently overlooked”.

The statement reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, Justice Williams did not direct that the publication of the judgment be restricted in any way.”

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now