(CNS): Alric Lindsay has been cleared to stand as a candidate in the general election next month after Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found there was no justification for the Elections Office to have challenged his qualification over his residency during the last seven years. Lindsay, who is running as an independent in George Town South, was the third person to face a challenge to their eligibility to stand for office since Nomination Day but the only one cleared to remain in the race after the country’s top judge ruled that his periods away from the island underscored, rather than undermined, his commitment to Cayman.
Lindsay had originally been challenged on other issues relating to his birth outside of Cayman but the Attorney General’s Chambers chose not to pursue that issue after it was settled between lawyers that he is a Caymanian.
By the time the case came before the chief justice, the only thing standing between Lindsay and the ballot paper was the question of whether he had been continuously resident over the last seven years.
CJ Smellie said that when viewed in isolation, the issue of absence should be carefully assessed in the context of the Constitution and there needed to be a concern about that absence bringing into doubt a commitment to the country by a person seeking election.
Lindsay, who is a qualified CPA and lawyer, was learning Spanish to expand his client base and was off island at times during the relevant period to get a native understanding of the language. For this reason he spent periods of time in several Spanish-speaking countries around the region. His travel history over the seven years showed frequent trips relating to his immersion in these places to help him reach that goal and to meet potential clients for his Cayman-based financial services business.
The court found that the fact that he retained his home and businesses here showed that he was resident. In a short version of his full ruling, the chief justice said that the trips illustrated Lindsay’s commitment to Cayman rather than undermined it and therefore raised no concerns regarding his eligibility for election. He said the Elections Office did not “have sufficient evidence to invoke the jurisdiction of the Grand Court”, as he cleared Lindsay to return to the campaign trail.
Emphasising that the supervisor was at fault in this case, for the first time in this week’s three decisions he ordered the office to pay Lindsay’s legal costs, as he said the case should not have been brought. The difficulties that he faced as a result of an unjustified challenge meant the public purse should bear his costs, CJ Smellie added.
The chief justice has also invited the defence lawyers involved in these challenges, the solicitor general and members of the Attorney General’s Chambers to work on suggested court rules and practice directions to submit to the chief justice and court’s rules committee to help improve the handling of election challenges in future.
Following the judgment, Lindsay told CNS that he was ready for the campaign and he had been in no way put off by the experience of a challenge to his qualification. He said the best thing he could do now was to win the seat of George Town South.
Check back to CNS later for more from Lindsay and the questions the challenge raised about the Constitution and what local people really want from it when it comes to candidate qualifications.