Government of the Cayman Islands

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Cayman Islands

Government of the Cayman Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic overseas territory, whereby the Premier is the head of government, and of a two-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Legislative Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The Cayman Islands' physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a constitution in 1959. A constitution, which devolved some authority from the United Kingdom to the Cayman Islands government, was passed by referendum on 20 May 2009. Subsequently, the islands have become largely self-governing.

The Cayman Islands' government is aided by a tradition of restrained civil governance from the United Kingdom.

Executive branch

The Cabinet is appointed by the governor on advice of the premier. The British Crown appoints a governor, who is recruited from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and serves as the British representative, including his role as the direct representative of Queen Elizabeth II. Daily administration of the islands is conducted by the Cabinet.[1]

The deputy governor, and attorney general are appointed by the governor. Responsibility for defence and foreign affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the deputy governor handles the portfolio for External Affairs, and the Cayman Islands Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments.

The governor can exercise complete executive authority if he wishes through reserve powers reserved to him in the Constitution. However, he must consult with the premier prior to using such powers and must do so in the interest of the Cayman Islands (so long as it doesn't prejudice British interests). He must give royal assent to all legislation, which allows him the power to strike down any law the legislature may see fit for the country. In modern times, the governor usually allows the country to be run by the cabinet, and the civil service to be run by the deputy governor, who is the acting governor when the governor is not able to discharge his usual duties for one reason or another. The Governor of the Cayman Islands is Helen Kilpatrick and the deputy governor is the Honourable Franz Manderson.[2]

List of ministers:

Legislative branch

The Legislative Assembly building in George Town

The unicameral Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands is presided over by an independent speaker. The Legislative Assembly has 18 elected members. Elections are held at the discretion of the governor at least every 4 years. Members of the Legislative Assembly may introduce bills which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the governor. The UK Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the governor. The premier is limited to two consecutive terms, after which the individual who was premier for two terms must sit out a term before being constitutionally eligible to be premier again. The premier is Alden McLaughlin from the PPM since 29 May 2013.

Judicial branch

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law, colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the Islands, but a final appeal may be heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sitting in London.

The Grand Court, ranking below the Court of Appeal, was first created in 1877 as a court of special limited jurisdiction by statute. It was established in its present form by the Grand Court Law of 1975, and became a Constitutional Court in 1984. [3]

It consists of three divisions:

The Grand Court is headed by the Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands, who is appointed by the governor on advice from the Judicial Service Commission. The current chief justice is Anthony Smellie.

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Administrative divisions

Districts: George Town, Bodden Town, West Bay, North Side, East End, Sister Islands (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman)

International organisation participation

Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC


From 2002 to 2005 the Government of the Cayman Islands sent some delinquent youth to Tranquility Bay, a privately operated World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools facility in Jamaica. The government funded the students as they were located in the centre.[4]

See also


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