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Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Puts Same-Sex Marriage Rights on Pause

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President of the Court of Appeal Sir John Goldring announced the stay pending the government’s appeal.

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Friday April 12, 2019
 On the same day two women were to
become the first same-sex couple in the Cayman Islands to get married, a Court
of Appeal stayed the High Court decision that would have made the wedding
possible.

The right given to same-sex couples to marry in the
British Overseas Territory has been suspended, pending the hearing of government’s
appeal against Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s rewrite of the law to legalize
same-sex marriage.

The Court of Appeal handed down that decision on Wednesday, after government sought a stay to prevent the Chief Justice’s ruling – which was handed down in a challenge to the Marriage Law filed by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush after they were refused an application to wed in April 2018– from taking effect until its appeal is heard.

Vickie Bodden Bush (left) and Chantelle Day (right) had been scheduled to marry this week, reports say. (Credit: Cayman Compass)

President of the three-member panel, Sir John Goldring said the court accepted the point raised by attorney Reshma Sharma on behalf of the attorney general that there was a risk of creating a legal anomaly if same-sex couples were allowed to marry and the Chief Justice’s decision was later overturned on appeal.

He said the judges had read and considered Day’s
“moving and detailed” affidavit and was in “no doubt” of the prejudices she and
Bodden Bush faced. But, he said, there were cogent grounds for a stay to be put
in place.

The judge said the court was also conscious of the
administrative changes that may be required to give effect to Smellie’s
judgment.

“It is not without hesitation that we have
concluded that the interests of justice do require a stay in this case, pending
the decision of this court,” Justice Goldring said.

The court will hear government’s appeal at its next
sitting in August and make a decision on whether the Chief Justice’s ruling
should stand.

In his judgment delivered on April 1, the Chief
Justice ordered a rewrite of the Cayman Islands’ Marriage Law, saying that
preventing same-sex couples from accessing marriage and the suite of rights
that come with it was a clear violation of freedoms guaranteed in the
Constitution, including the right to a private and family life, the right to
freedom of conscience, and the right to freedom from discrimination.

The Chief Justice ordered that the clause in the
law that specifies marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples should be
amended to state that: “Marriage means the union between two people as one
another’s spouses.”

The government, in its appeal, maintains that the Chief
justice overstepped his powers by revising the Marriage Law directly, to create
what Sharma described as “a new species of marriage”.

But David McGrath, who was representing Day and
Bodden Bush, said government’s grounds for appeal were simply a rehash of
arguments that had been unsuccessful at trial. He said they were “totally without
merit” and had “no chance of success”, and it would be unfair to his clients to
deny them the “fruits of their judgment”.

Justice Goldring said the Alden McLaughlin-led administration did not have to prove that it had a realistic chance of success on appeal to be granted a stay. He said the government simply had to prove that it had an arguable case, which it did.

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Jamaica’s Justice Ministry Rolling out Initiatives to Prevent Witness Intimidation

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Chief Justice Bryan Sykes (left), converses with Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, during the opening of the Justice Ministry’s Witness Care Conference. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Monday July 22, 2019
– The
Jamaica government is embarking on initiatives to protect witnesses in trials from
intimidation, including providing buses equipped with audio-video technology,
to assist in securing testimony from witnesses.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said two
such vehicles, which will be rolled out soon, will be used to travel to remote
areas where witnesses may be located.

He said other initiatives include
equipping 78 courtrooms with digital audio facilities, and 19 with audio-video
recording apparatus, noting that “with this technology, witness intimidation
will be significantly reduced”.

Additionally, the Minister said,
legislation has been passed to allow witnesses in human trafficking cases being
tried in the Circuit Court, to testify before presiding judges without a jury.

“Our goal, mission and purpose at the
Ministry of Justice is to create a first class justice system that delivers
timely justice to all, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances,” Chuck
emphasized, adding that a first-class justice system cannot exist without the
proper care and protection of witnesses.

His comments were delivered by Executive
Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, at a Witness Care Conference,
at the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, Mona, which ended over
the weekend.

Minister Chuck said engagement such as
the conference are intended to provide a “wealth of information” that should be
used as “critical investments” to yield “tangible results” for the care of
witnesses.

This, he added, is imperative in
spurring civic-minded Jamaicans into action, and sending a message to the
criminal underworld that “witnesses will not cower in fear, but will be
motivated to stand and be counted and play their part in creating a society that
is secure, cohesive and just”.

The inaugural event was a key activity
under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Project, a
$19.8 million Global Affairs Canada (GAC)-funded initiative, being implemented
by the Justice Ministry and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It is supporting justice sector reforms through technical-legal assistance; institutional strengthening; and social order.

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Real Estate Board in Jamaica Clamping Down on Developers Who Illegally Sell Properties

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Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporations, Sandra Garrick. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Monday July 22, 2019
– The
Real Estate Board (REB)/Commission of Strata Corporations (CSC) is clamping
down on unregistered real estate developers who are selling properties
illegally.

“For the second time in 2019 we have had
a conviction for an unregistered developer, and both cases are now at the
sentencing process,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate
Board/Commission of Strata Corporations, Sandra Garrick.

“We want to remind persons that the Real
Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporation is committed to ensuring that if
developers fail to register they will answer to the law.”

Garrick added that in one of the cases, units
were being marketed and sold in an unregistered scheme for which the developer
had not yet acquired land.

“Part of the REB’s responsibility is to
oversee that purchasers receive what they have contracted and that monies paid
over to developers are used as the Real Estate Act prescribes, meaning the
funds are put in a Trust account and not used as the developer’s personal
money,” she emphasized.

Garrick also encouraged  purchasers to do their due diligence when
buying property.

“As a purchaser, the first thing you
should do is ensure that the real estate developer is registered with the REB
and is allowed to contract business, sell units and advertise. A list of
registered developers can be found on the REB’s website and persons may call
the Board to do checks,” she said.

Garrick pointed out that there are times when the REB may give a developer  tentative approval, but will not grant the approval to market the units.

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Cayman Islands Leads International Gold Smuggling Investigation

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Some of the 104 kilos of gold that was seized.

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Monday July 22, 2019 – Authorities in the Cayman Islands are leading a money laundering investigation with the assistance of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA), following the seizure of gold worth around £4 million (US$4.9 million).

The gold was seized by the NCA as part of an international investigation into a suspected South American drugs cartel.

Officers from the UK’s Border Force, acting on intelligence from the NCA, moved in to detain the shipment at Heathrow on June 1. The gold was being transported from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, having earlier been shipped to the British Overseas Territory on a private jet from Venezuela.

The bars and pieces of gold, which together weigh around 104 kilos, have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates in London.

NCA Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said: “We believe that this shipment was linked to drugs cartels operating out of South America. Working with partners overseas and in the UK we were quickly able to identify it and stop it’s onward movement.

“The business model of many organized crime groups relies upon the ability to move money across borders, to fund further investment in criminal activity. If we can stop that it not only causes disruption to the criminal network involved and prevents them benefiting from crime, it also stops that re-investment.”

Nick Jariwalla, Border Force Heathrow Director, added that taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most – in the pocket.

“This was a substantial seizure and demonstrates how effectively Border Force works with law enforcement partners, both at home and abroad, to combat organised crime,” he said.

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