Not so fast: Port referendum delayed in Cayman

A referendum that was scheduled to be held in the Cayman Islands this month on a controversial cruise and cargo port development has been delayed until sometime next year.

A section of the Cayman Islands. (Photo:

This follows an order issued by the court earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Grand Court judge Tim Owen granted leave to apply for judicial review to Shirley Roulstone – a leading member of the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman campaign group.

Roulstone had challenged the decision to schedule the poll on December 19, before the completion of an updated environmental impact assessment. 

She also raised legal concerns about the fairness of the provisions for the referendum.

“This case plainly involves issues of great constitutional importance.”

— Grand Court judge Tim Owen

Justice Owen told the court that a trial has been provisionally scheduled for January 20, pending courtroom availability.

The National Trust had also brought a legal challenge but agreed to join its case with Roulstone’s because of the similarity of its arguments on the environmental points.

According to Justice Owen, Roulstone’s lawyers had met the threshold to proceed to full trial and acknowledged that while the government had advanced “strong arguments” – these were not the “knockout blows” necessary for him to dismiss the case at this stage.

“This case plainly involves issues of great constitutional importance for the Cayman Islands – questions which have never been considered before because this is the first time that Section 70 of the Constitution, which provides for a people-initiated referendum, has been triggered,” the judge said.