One of Cayman’s veteran lawyers says he believes the Cayman Islands taking the United Kingdom to court will be expensive and ultimately futile.
Cayman 27’s Jevaughnie Ebanks sat down with Dr. Steve McField on this issue and he has this report.
Local attorney Dr. Steve McField said he is concerned if the Cayman Islands Government moves forward with challenging the UK government in court over public beneficial ownership registries it will hurt the public purse.
“It’s going to cost us a lot of money. If the House of Commons wants this ad the Law Lords in England want this, it is not going to be easy for us to fight them because they are going use whatever power they have to fight this case to the end to get what they want,” said Dr. McField.
He believes to take this fight forward all should get involved.
“I haven’t seen the private sectors who is making the millions and millions and millions from all of these overseas services. I don’t see how much money they say they are going to put in,” said Dr. McField.
The issue of legal challenge came to the fore after an amendment to the Sanction and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was passed in the UK Parliament seeking to force British Overseas Territories to make public registries of beneficial ownership by 2020. Dr. McField said there are options.
“We could ask the courts the review what the privy council has done. We could do that, of course, we would have to start there. If we are not satisfied there we can go to the European Court of Justice.”
As for our chances of being successful, he said, it may not be as clear-cut as when former Premier and current House Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush took on the UK when they tried to force taxes on the Cayman Islands.
“It was not a supreme law from the sovereign and her advisors it was just a sort of local issue. It was not an order in council. It was not a law that they were imposing,” said Dr. McField.
And when asked about Cayman possibly going independent Dr. McField said, “We cannot even maintain this territory we have now. We have a Constitution and we haven’t even complied with that… And that has been in force since 2009.”
We reached out to the Government to find out more on what they saw as legal options. Up until airtime, we did not hear back