CIG officials make ‘great progress’ on constitution

| 12/06/2018 | 12 Comments
Cayman News Service

Lord Ahmad (centre) with Premier Alden McLaughlin and Minister Tara Rivers

(CNS): Cayman Islands London representative Eric Bush, who has been coordinating meetings in the UK for the premier’s delegation this week, said that “great progress” is being made in efforts to improve the constitutional relationship between Britain and the Cayman Islands. Premier Alden McLaughlin and other government officials met with lawyers Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC and Lord David Pannick QC, who are advising the Cayman government on their challenge to the imposition of beneficial ownership registers and possible constitutional changes.

The meeting with the top UK legal experts follows a series of talks held after the amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill regarding public registers was passed by the House of Commons, causing friction with the Cayman Islands and other British Overseas Territories, who contest that this is an overreach of their respective constitutions.

Sir Jeffrey is a longstanding associate of the Cayman Islands and has been involved in its past constitutional development, while Lord Pannick is one of the UK’s most highly regarded advocates.

“We talked about the way forward with constitutional talks in regard to the Cayman Islands Constitution of 2009,” McLaughlin said about the meeting. “We are concerned about the actions of the House of Commons in seeking to legislate for the Cayman Islands, which amounts to constitutional overreach by forcing the Cayman Islands to adopt public registers of beneficial ownership.”

The agenda for discussion, included a review of advice from Sir Jeffrey and Lord Pannick, a discussion about desired outcomes, formulation of a plan for the way forward and setting out timelines necessary for the Cayman Islands.

Bush said after the meeting, “We believe we are making great progress in setting out desired improvements to the Cayman Islands constitutional relationship between the UK and the Cayman Islands at this critical time.”

Talks with the lawyers were followed by a meeting with the FCO minister with responsibility for the territories, Lord Ahmad, where officials said in a release that the way forward regarding the constitutional talks was on the agenda.

While Lord Ahmad defended the British Overseas Territories on the public registries issue in the House of Lords, he was not able to prevent the passage of the amendment, which requires all BOTs to introduce public beneficial ownership registries by 2020.

But Lord Ahmad’s comments will bolster the Cayman Islands’ case for a constitutional change, as he had warned the Lords what the amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill meant for the territories.

“Legislating for these jurisdictions without their consent in this field effectively disenfranchises their elected representatives,” he said during the debate last month.

Given the position of the authorities here and other territories that this is constitutional overreach, McLaughlin is pressing for a change to prevent any future impositions by the UK on domestic legislation in Cayman. Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to the constitutional discussions and has appointed Cabinet minister David Liddington to lead the talks.

The principle changes that the Cayman Islands is seeking is the removal of section 125 of the Constitution or a clarification so that the UK can only step in to make laws for Cayman when there is a fundamental breakdown in public order or endemic corruption.

The CIG wants it to be made clear that the UK’s power over “international affairs” be confined to the enforcement and implementation of clear international obligations of the UK alone and, provided the Cayman Islands is not in breach of international standards, that the power of internal self-governance is absolute.

It is not yet clear if the Cayman delegation will meet with Liddington during this trip or whether a date will be set for the formal talks about the changes. The premier is planning to establish a parliamentary committee to discuss the amendments when the LA meets later this month. Once the entire Legislative Assembly has approved the proposals, it is understood that the premier will head another delegation, including Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, to London for those official talks.

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Category: Business, Financial Services, Politics

Comments (12)

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  1. True blue says:

    It’s amazing how a few gin and tonics at the bar after the “consultations” can cast a pleasant glow on the “progress” made. As for the Governor retaining the right to intervene in matters of corruption, he will be busier than ever.

  2. Anonymous says:

    the world is looking in at us and saying, are they that stupid to let this entity systematically buy their country??? or are they that unstable to allow that? ??

  3. Anonymous says:

    arent you fellow caymanians worried that most of businesses are being bought up by one entity? cheez, on 10 yrs time, this entity will own all of businesses….in every sector? and our caymanian children will be working fir this entity alongside the foreigners at minimum wages? politicians, are you listening? ?

  4. Anonymous says:

    pretty lodge duellers??

  5. Anonymous says:

    So Eric Bush is booking appointments. Essentially an over paid personal assistant. Let’s hope he doesn’t screw that up like his screwups at CAL and with the CCTV.

  6. SMH says:

    Eric Bush should explain the progress he made with the CCTV program. It’s a complete joke that he is Cayman’s ambassador in the U.K. given his track record and performance as a Chief Officer. Lodge really protects its own. With him and King Alden at the forefront of these negotiations it’s more like that blind leading the blind around Whitehall. SMH

  7. Anonymous says:

    Talks on non-public registers were going really well too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    God help us

    • Anonymous says:

      “The principle changes that the Cayman Islands is seeking is the removal of section 125 of the Constitution or a clarification so that the UK can only step in to make laws for Cayman when there is a fundamental breakdown in public order or endemic corruption.”

      No way will they remove that section!

      ***Section 125 of the Cayman Islands Constitution (2009) states:

      Power reserved to Her Majesty

      125. There is reserved to Her Majesty full power to make laws for the peace, order
      and good government of the Cayman Islands.

      That is a vague, broad-reaching section of the constitution that they will not remove!

      Good-luck! Should have never passed it before it was properly reviewed!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Great. Now use your super powers to fix the garbage pick up.

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