Beach access case inches towards judicial review

| 10/01/2020 | 45 Comments
Cayman News Service
Lawyers address a small crowd outside the courthouse after the JR hearing

(CNS): An application for judicial review of government’s failure to register and protect long-standing beach access rights is finally beginning to move through the courts. After securing legal aid last year following a long fight, the West Bay ladies behind the Concerned Citizens Group had their first day in court on Thursday, where the judge set directions on how the case will move forward. Despite being a purely administrative hearing, dozens of supporters turned up hoping to hear what was said but were refused entry.

Given that this appearance was merely to set the timetable for disclosure and other procedural matters, it a was set in Chambers and heard behind closed doors. But attorney Bilika Simamba, who is instructed by Philip Ebanks, will be litigating for the women bringing the application. She said that he had asked the court to accommodate the public for future hearings.

The judicial review has not yet been granted as the case has a very long history, with a number of complicated twists and turns compounded by the initial refusals of legal aid. This was followed by only limited funding and a stop on releasing that money after the activists’ own personal finances became caught up in the application.

This undermined the ability of the women to press ahead with what is a very important public interest case with wide implications for future access to the beaches in Cayman for everyone.

In short, the women are challenging the refusal by the registrar of lands to register a number of beach and coastal access points that have been in use for at least 20 years, in accordance with the law. In a letter sent to the women after they asked for the access point registrations, the registrar claimed she could not confirm the access points unless ordered to do so by the courts. Despite accepting that the pathways had, under the prescription law, reached legal status, she claimed that the courts still had to define them.

A government report released in 2018 supported the women’s claims about these access points.

It is on this basis that Ezmie Smith, Alice Mae Coe and Annie Multon, who have been spearheading this campaign, finally received the financial support they needed to press ahead last year. which meant that they were able to get the case onto the court docket.

It is not clear why government is fighting the case, given that the PPM administration has claimed it is committed to protecting and ensuring access rights to the beach for all Caymanians and has railed against reported incidences where locals are chased off or denied access to the waterfront.

Following today’s hearing, both parties have been given around five weeks to exchange relevant documents. A date is expected to be set in February for arguments over whether the court will give leave for the judicial review of the decision or whether technical legal issues could stand in the way of the substantive arguments over rights of way ever being heard.


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Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another issue which I’m now finding alarming is most hotels welcome you with open arms to come and purchase food, purchase drinks, purchase clothes, jewelry, rent their wave runners, sale boats, etc…, but you can’t use their pools. I believe it is unlawful to collect funds including gratuities up to 15% on the said items yet you can’t enjoy all of the amenities. If one is unruly and is disturbing guests, then these persons should be escorted off the property. CNS are you aware hotels can mandate this rule considering you are visiting the property and is a paying guest?

  2. Anonymous says:

    If I buy beach front property I want to be able to do whatever the heck I want with it! I don’t need a motley crew of fools traipsing across my land! Go to Public Beach.

    • Anonymous says:

      You beach is public, and if you did not realize that, you are the fool.

    • Anonymous says:

      I very much hope that they stop traipsing but stop for a while. Have a picnic. Build sandcastles with their kids. Go for a swim, and after a few hours clean up after themselves and move along. That is their right. It is not yours to interfere with anymore than they can interfere with your right to do the same.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The beach and the beautiful waters should be open and enjoyed by all who live, visit and work here. It is sad the government did not have the foresight to ensure of this. Instead they allowed the wealthy developers to set up shop, poured the concrete and reap the profits with nothing left for the majority to enjoy. Now we are caught in this conundrum whereby the owners of the condos want peace, quiet and unfettered interruptance for what they paid for whilst the majority is left to be cursed and threatened to leave their beach alone. Why do we have the CPA? It is my opinion they rubber stamp all the “big” developments and harass the small homeowners. This country is in a sad state of affairs and it’s time to drain the swamp! Lifetime politicians needs to go!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm, the right of everyone to enjoy the beaches and waters is assured. All that is lacking is that the police and others refuse to enforce the law.

  4. Anonymous says:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51076897
    Imagine if Cayman had laws that could be enforced like this against developers who clear land without proper permits and choose to beg forgiveness instead.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I thought Mr Simamba was one of Government’s Legislative drafting officers?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, he was, but he left the dark side and joined the Force.

      • Anonymous says:

        Joined the Jedi you mean. The Force has a dark side and a light side he joined the light side (Jedi). If you are going to use Star Wars terminology please get it right

  6. Anonymous says:

    The mere fact that these elderly ladies have to go to court to fight for something that should be ours into perpetuity is an indictment on the Government of this country. Big grown ass, had back men with no balls whatsoever…What makes me so amazed though is that no matter how bad they treat us we vote them back in..

    • Anonymous says:

      Problem is there is no alternative. The old boys and old girls run the whole show.

      • Anonymous says:

        The older generation of Caymanian politicians, both male and female, has done ZERO / ZERO to encourage the younger generation to get involved with Caymanian civic and political life. The older generation has sold the younger generation short. The reason, to continue to feed at the lucrative public trough.

    • Vincit Omnia Veritas says:

      I’ve already said this on here but CNS decides what they publish. Not only is it our indigenous right to beach access, it is also our indigenous right to resist being the minority in our own country. Caymanian numbers have been overshadowed by the mass migration of foreign nationals to our shores. As natives, we have the indigenous right to reserve this nation for our own so that we do not continue down the spiral road of being the minority in our own country.

      CNS: It’s possible that the previous time you said this it was expressed in more racist terms, which may have been why it was deleted. Your comment as expressed here is a legitimate point of view.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ermmm….it was the Big Daddy Caymanian of them all….McKeeva… that threw status around like confetti.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not a nation, bobo, it’s just a small territory. It belongs to a nation, namely Britain.

        • Anonymous says:

          Britain is an island, not a nation.

          • Anonymous says:

            There are three countries on the Island of Britain. England, Wales and Scotland. They together form The United Kingdom of Great Britain. Britain is indeed not a country or a nation.

            • Anonymous says:

              Good God Almighty I had no idea our government school system was as bad as this. You mean the United Kingdom which has a seat on the United Nations security council isn’t a nation??? And Cayman…”this nation” according to the poster…. is equal to the international status of the UK? Christ Jesus, we need to close these local schools down now and start again.

          • Anonymous says:

            5:34, You are clearly a product of the poor education system in Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        5:57, Governor Peter Lloyd warned about this back in the mid 1980s. He called it the Fiji problem because of the problems in that country when the indigenous population became swamped, Since Lloyd’s day, we have had many governments, all made up of indigenous Caymanians, voted in by (almost all) indigenous Caymanian voters aware of the expats to Caymanians ratio, so why is it we “natives” (your word) are still continuing down that spiral road you refer to?

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry to tell you this Veritas but it is your Caymanian buddies who have sold you short on beach access. Caymanians have the power to act but whine even though they have the power.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Look, it’s obvious whats going to happen. Dart is going to cover the dump with sand and open it up to all us pesky locals, and then issue a press release stating that foot for foot, Dart has granted more linear beach access rights to a nation per capita than anyone could possibly have imagined and therefore here’s another 2 50 storey towers and a tunnel, please stop holding up my plan to pave paradise, can we put the owners of all hardware stores and concrete supplies in position on every board in perpetuity please, here’s another washing machine for your election needs,

  8. Towner says:

    ANOTHER ISSUE – is
    Car Access to the Beach Access!
    We currently have beach accesses along the West Bay, and you can’t even park unless you decide to park alongside the dangerous main road. They really make it hard for the local elderly and children to safely attend the beaches.

    • Anonymous says:

      To another issue: so true and what if there is an emergency. Emergency vehicles can’t even get in there. As some of them are now, 2 people can’t even walk side by side in them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I want more and you all should too. Why can’t we have our own beach like Public beach with facilities? Why or how can we use a beach that has no restrooms, parking, or showers? So suppose we have an emergency? How does the ambulance get the person or child off the beach quickly? We made a mistake a long time ago cause we thought we could control the future. We need proper beaches for our future not some access like a service entrance, WAKE UP!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Perfect example of entitlement mentality. Now simple access is not enough. Next you will want your own apartment on the beach paid for by either Dart or the Government.

    • Anonymous says:

      @10:14 we had our own beach on West Bay Road. The problem is our so called politicians gave it away to street vendors for cruise tourist. Protest about that!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Money talks!

    The reality that we often don’t want to accept is that many of our political representatives (and other government officials) are there firstly serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Let’s not fools ourselves about the extent of the corruption and nepotism that is taking place within our society.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Even when we get beach access formally guaranteed (even though it is already legally guaranteed by prescription) what can we do when people continue to infringe our rights to peaceable enjoyment – including sunbathing, picnicking etc.? Does anyone enforce any laws around here?

  12. Caveat Emptor says:

    This government is compromised and not to be trusted. They are controlled by their masters in Camana Bay and the developer class of pirates who are getting concessions like candies. This combination is arguably the worst elected government in Cayman’s history. They represent special interests and a handful of donors that put this coalition together. They do not pretend to represent to the majority they were created to serve the needs of the Monaco jet setters. Look at their decisions as the evidence that supports these facts.

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