Statement by His Excellency the Governor
in response to the Privy Council decision at its meeting on 10 June 2009
on the new Constitution of the Cayman Islands
Following the successful outcome of the constitutional referendum on 20 May, the 2009 draft constitution was considered and approved by Her Majesty in Privy Council yesterday (Wednesday, 10 June 2009). This means that the draft constitution is now the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009. Although Her Majesty has approved the new Constitution, this does not mean that it comes into force immediately.
The Order will need to be laid before the UK Parliament. This is scheduled to happen on 17 June.
As Governor of the Cayman Islands I will then be required to decide and proclaim the "Appointed Day," the legal term for the start date. On that day the new Constitution will come into effect and the present Constitution will be repealed in its entirety.
Whilst we are all anxious for this transition to take place as quickly as possible, as Governor I must ensure that good governance is maintained. In selecting the "Appointed Day" I must ensure that all essential tasks that are necessary for the smooth introduction of the new Constitution have been completed. Failure to ensure this may leave us with damaging constitutional voids, which could become messy, complex or legally deficient. While I am not yet in a position to set the Appointed Day, I can say that it will not be for several months.
The many priority tasks that will need to be completed before the start date include the creation and reorganisation of a number of government posts and offices; the amendment of a slate of existing laws; and the preparation of a number of new constitutional bodies that currently do not exist, such as the National Security Council, the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. After the Appointed Day a great deal of additional work will still have to take place to fully implement other parts of the Constitution.
None of us should underestimate the magnitude of the task before us, particularly in the lead-up to the start date. The completion of all this work will require the full cooperation and coordination of government agencies, the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly.
In addition to receiving technical advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I have appointed a small team of civil servants under the Deputy Chief Secretary to identify the tasks that are absolutely essential before the new Constitution can be brought into effect, and to draft an implementation plan that will encompass everything that has to be done both before and after the Appointed Day. That work is already well advanced.
Before deciding the date on which the new Constitution will come into effect I must seek views on the implementation plan from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Cabinet, which will need to agree certain actions. I will then make a public announcement.
I am convinced that the focus and energy demanded by this entire exercise will pay off in a smooth transition that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of the new Constitution without the administrative and legal gaps that would otherwise undermine its effective working. Regular reports on the progress towards implementation will be provided to Cabinet, and the public will be kept abreast of ongoing developments.