Our Constitutional History - Part 1
 

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Part One - The Cayman Islands, a Colony of a Colony

During the 1850ís, the Cayman Islands experienced a period of isolation and neglect as a dependency and as a result, self reliance emerged. There were constitutional and administrative uncertainties such as, the relationship between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, the extent of authority of the Government of Jamaica over the Cayman Islands and the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the Jamaican Courts.

Until 1863, the status of the Cayman Islands was unclear and there was no real decision taken by the United Kingdom to properly establish the islands as a crown colony. However, a clarification of these issues eventually bore fruit with the unwavering determination of Governor Edward Eyre and others.

Between 1863 and 1865, The Cayman Islands was recognized as a full dependency of Jamaica with approval by the Jamaican Assembly. With this, the islands saw the first signs of meaningful constitutional developments which settled many domestic administrative, constitutional and legal issues.

The Act for The Cayman Islands Government was enacted on June 22, 1863. This Act allowed for all British Acts or laws which were valid in Jamaica to be applied to the Cayman Islands. The Act also allowed the Governor of Jamaica to exercise authority over the Cayman Islands as if it were a part of Jamaica and vested the Supreme Court of Jamaica with the jurisdiction to hear any legal action that could not be tried in the islands.

However, for the people of the Cayman Islands, the most significant milestone was the fact that the 1863 Act caused for the full recognition of the local legislature and gave it greater internal autonomy to handle the islandsí domestic affairs. Some of these increased responsibilities included control over the collection, custody and expenditure of the legislative revenue, the establishment, maintenance, discipline and powers of the Police, the management, occupation, disposal of public or common land, the abatement of nuisances and the construction of works and public utility to name a few.

This was a tremendous achievement which resulted in a better quality of life for the people of the Cayman Islands. However, the memory of these successes faded as new problems emerged in the 1870ís. The hurricanes of 1876 and 1877 adversely impacted Caymanian vessels and sailors and humanitarian and financial assistance were not freely given. To further compound these economic and social stressors, the livelihood of Caymanian seamen in Cuba and other areas were severely affected. The islands were left to fend for themselves once more whilst their fate was left to a Governor and his Assembly men across the seas.

See Constitutional Supplement of July newsletter

Last Updated: 2007-07-03




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