How laws are passed in the Cayman Islands

| 30/05/2016

Can you explain the process of passing new legislation in the Cayman Islands and what role the governor plays in it? Can the UK impose laws that have not been passed in the local Legislative Assembly?

The Cayman Islands’ legal system is based on English common law, locally enacted law and Orders-in-Council, which is legislation that the UK extends to its territories, or as you put it, impose laws whether the local politicans agree or not. Notably, this law was used in 1991 to abolish the death penalty and in 2000 to legalise homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. In both of these cases, it was highly unlikely that the laws would have been passed in the LA at that time.

Local laws begin as bills, which are put forward to the Cabinet by a ministry or portfolio. If the bill receives Cabinet approval, it is forwarded to the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, who presents it to the House for its first reading, which generally takes place without debate. Before the second reading, the Cabinet member responsible for the bill outlines its general objectives and principles, which may then be debated by the House. At the end of the debate, the MLAs vote on whether the bill should proceed.

After the second reading, the bill enters the committee stage (which involves all MLAs unless the House refers it to a select committee), where detailed examination of each clause takes place. Once the committee stage is finished, the bill returns to the House for its report stage, presented by the member responsible, where the amended bill can be debated once more and further amendments proposed.

Following a third reading in the House, it is voted on by members of the LA. If it is passed, it will go to the governor of the Cayman Islands, who must give assent to all legislation before it is enacted and has the power to strike down any law that has been passed by the local legislature or return it to the House with recommended amendments. Once the governor’s assent is given to the bill, it is published in the official Gazette and becomes law.

I hope this helps.

Category: Ask Auntie

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