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Court system and government

The Court System

The substantive law of the Cayman Islands is based on English common law with the addition of local statutes which have, in many respects, changed and updated the common law. It should also be noted that a few English statutes have been extended to the Cayman Islands by Orders in Council. The islands have a good legal and judicial system, constantly being advanced to meet the demands of an ever evolving society.

The Courts system in the Cayman Islands is a simple one with practice and procedure based on English law. Minor criminal and civil cases are tried by a Stipendiary Magistrate sitting in the Summary Court. All serious crimes and most civil cases are tried by the Grand Court, which is presided over by the Chief Justice and Grand Court Judges permanently resident in the Cayman Islands.

Appeals lie from the Grand Court to the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, which sits in Grand Cayman, and from there to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England.

Constitution and Government

The Cayman Islands are a British Colony (they are a British Overseas Territory under the British Nationality Act, 1981 as amended by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002) and as such are the responsibility of the British Government in London, England.

However, for all practical purposes they are governed under the Cayman Islands (Constitution) Orders 1972 and 1984 (S.I.1972 No. 1101 and S.I. 1984 No. 126, which gives executive and legislative power to a Governor, an Executive Council and a Legislative Assembly. Accordingly the Cayman Islands enjoy a large measure of self-government.

The Governor is appointed by the British Government and has overall responsibility for the administration of the Cayman Islands. Government policy is made by an Executive Council consisting of the Governor, three senior civil servants and five ministers, who are elected members of the Legislative Assembly appointed by their fellow members. There are ministerial portfolios, and Government departments, which are staffed by civil servants; members of the Executive Council each have particular areas of responsibility and the Executive Council takes the form of a cabinet.

The Cayman Islands are entirely responsible for passing their own laws, as the British Government will only intervene in an emergency. Legislation is initiated by the Executive Council, and must be passed by the Legislative Assembly, which consists of the Speaker as President, three senior civil servants ex officio and fifteen elected members.

The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are a group of three Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are together approximately 100 square miles. The capital, George Town, is on Grand Cayman.