Thursday December 3rd 2020 will herald a new dawn for Cayman.
It will be the first part of a dual historic occasion for the jurisdiction as that date will see The Cayman Islands Constitution (Amendment) Order 2020 come into effect.
It was approved by the UK Privy Council this past November 11th.
The most significant change will be the designation of the Cayman Islands law-making body from Legislative Assembly to Parliament.
That will be formalised with the inaugural sitting of the new Cayman Islands Parliament with all the attendant pomp and circumstance the following day, Friday December 4th.
Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin had previously labelled the change of nomenclature as “hugely important” citing in particular instances when “elected members are dealing with international matters, or indeed when dealing with the UK Government or any other government.”
Speaking at the beginning of November during what was the final session of what was then the Legislative Assembly(LA), he’d stated that “government officials understand intuitively that a Legislative Assembly is an inferior body in constitutional terms to that of a Parliament.”
The outgoing Premier (who is coming to the end of the constitutionally-allowed two consecutive terms at the helm of government) had also expressed the belief that “it is less likely that the UK Parliament will seek to deal with another Parliament in the way that, on occasion, they have dealt with this Legislative Assembly in the past.”
The Cayman Islands Constitution (Amendment) Order 2020 which the jurisdiction has negotiated with the British government makes several other amendments to the constitution especially regarding the powers of the British-appointed Governor.
According to a government statement, amongst other things, the amendments also "abolish the Governor’s power of disallowance of locally-enacted legislation; remove the requirement for the Governor to approve standing orders made by the Parliament; make clearer that the Cayman Islands has autonomous capacity with respect to domestic affairs; and remove the Governor’s exemption from a duty to consult the Cabinet but defines certain exception to this."
One key area of curtailing the authority of the Governor to unilaterally enact legislation, which was reportedly making inroads in the negotiations, suffered a terminal setback in the controversy over the Domestic Partnership Bill to recognise same-sex unions.
That was voted down in the LA but was subsequently overruled by the Governor who proceeded to enact a Civil Partnership Law to the same effect.
Other provisions in the agreed constitutional changes are the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries and a Police Service Commission.
The territory has also secured an obligation for the UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to notify the Premier of proposed Acts of the UK Parliament or Orders in Council extending any provisions of an Act of the UK Parliament to the Cayman Islands so that the Cabinet can provide its views on proposed changes.
These amendments were debated and unanimously approved in the Legislative Assembly in December 2019.
The dates of Thursday December 3rd and Friday December 4th will be indelibly written into Cayman history as major milestones in the jurisdiction’s constitutional development.