On behalf of all who are involved with the public interest activities and efforts of the Concerned Citizens Group, we would like to publicly thank most sincerely all of you who came to the Court House on Thursday, 9th January 2020 to give moral support to the cause for preserving and regaining beach accesses in the Cayman Islands. We too were disappointed that, regretfully you were not allowed to enter and attend inside the Court Room. As many of you will be aware, although we as the Applicants were given access to the third floor of the building, we were not invited into the Court Room either. The Judge’s marshal informed us and the lawyers that only the lawyers were being invited to attend.
However, we were subsequently informed by our lawyers that the Judge only became aware, deep into the proceedings, that his blanket order effectively also excluded us the Applicants from being present during the hearing. As our lawyers mentioned outside the Courts House, the Judge expressed regret for the misunderstanding, and made it clear that our exclusion was inadvertent.
We have to explain for the record that weeks before the scheduled date of the hearing, we had informed the Court by email that there would be a number of people attending, and accordingly we requested a larger courtroom even though the matter was listed to be heard as a Chamber matter. Nevertheless, as it turned out, there was no intention to allow the general public in anyway.
As stated by our lawyers outside the Court House after the hearing, the Judge has ordered that the Attorney General submit their written arguments within 21 days from the 9th January 2020, and that our lawyers respond within 14 days of receiving the Attorney General’s arguments. Meanwhile, the parties are working to find a convenient date for the hearing, which is to be for one day. Although this date has not yet been agreed, our lawyers say it is unlikely to be earlier than March 2020.
Regarding public attendance at the next hearing, we believe that it is necessary for a matter of this level of importance that the public be able to attend. Accordingly, we have instructed our lawyers to formally request the Judge to have the next hearing in open court and have this settled before the date of hearing so that everyone who wants to attend can attend and hear the legal arguments. We will endeavour to inform you in advance what the Judge will order.
Our lawyers have since made us aware of the following provision from the Grand Court Rules Order 32 Rule 13, which states as follows:
“13. (1) The Judge in Chambers may direct that any summons, application or appeal shall be heard in Court or shall be adjourned into Court to be so heard if he considers that by reason of its importance or for any other reason it should be so heard.
(2) Any matter heard in Court by virtue of a direction under paragraph (1) above may be adjourned from Court into Chambers.”
Accordingly, our lawyers will be making representations to the Judge on this basis so that, if he rules as we hope, the public can be allowed to attend open court proceedings.
Thank you all again for attending Court and for your continued support. We will keep you abreast of events. God Bless!
Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon and Ezmie Smith
(the Applicants in Alice Mae Coe et al v Governor et al GC 66 of 2019)