Delays in drafting legislation

| 29/10/2008

In days gone by, when the private sector saw an opportunity for Cayman to get a competitive advantage globally, they would propose new legislation to government, who would apply their own version of the “Rotary test” to see if it would be good for Cayman.

Government might ask: Will it help the economy and boost government revenues? Will it have any negative impact on Caymanians in their daily lives? Will it have any negative effect on the international reputation of Cayman?

If the answers were all satisfactory, the private sector would get together and draft the legislation themselves, then give it to government to run the rule over the draft and pass the legislation. All of this would often happen with in a very short period of time.

Cayman is a smallplace, and this was one way that we used to be able to put that to our advantage by moving quickly.

Our islands will not be immune to the economic turmoil ahead, but our financial services industry are middle men to the world, and such major upheaval will also bring opportunity. We must be much quicker than recent history has shown us to be when the opportunity comes to react to the need for legislative change, else it will be the swifter moving offshore jurisdictions that take the "first mover" advantage.

In recent years, however, it seems that we have moved to be slower, not faster, with all drafting of new legislation being tightly controlled by the Legal Department, who themselves report to the AG, who (of course) reports to the Governor.

I doubt very much that the delays are deliberate, most likely simply due to lack of resources and prioritisation given to the Legal Department, but there have been a few examples recently of how this change in approach is delaying legislation unnecessarily:

In the news this week we see that the Legal Department was given the task of drafting legislation for the sex offenders register over two years ago.

The tobacco legislation that was eventually passed recently took around four years to get from "content agreed" stage from the government appointed committee on tobacco legislation until it was passed in the House.

In the Observer on Sunday 19 October edition, an article noted that the financial services industry has been waiting for about two years for the Legal Department to finalise legislation important to the future competitiveness of Cayman.

This one is an easy one to fix. Simply revert to the tried and trusted method of letting our private sector do the drafting of financial services legislation. They’ll do it for free, and quickly, yet government can still ensure their own control over the process through Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly. Such a move won’t cost our Government a penny, in fact it will save money.

 

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Comments (4)

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  1. Ebanks the Plumber says:

    While delays in drafting/passing important legislation may be inexcusable, the last people I would want to see drafting legislation (especially concerning the workplace) would be the private sector or the Chamber of Commerce. 

    I am disappointed that we have no consumer rights legislation in place. Maybe that’s to be expected in a market economy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What does the article’s writer know about legal drafting?  Is he a lawyer or a legal draftsman?  There clearly IS a difference between the 2.  Lawyers are NOT necessarily legal draftsmen.  This is why many pieces of legislation have failed – they were written by knowledgeable and well-meaning practitioners but failed the legal drafting test.  This winds up costing more money and time to have the Government legal drafting team (a VERY competent team at that) re-write the laws because Cabinet and/or the LA didn’t bother to vet the work in the first place.  Mr. McCallum probably doesn’t know that Government’s legal drafting work IS priorized by Cabinet.  On a regular (at least annual) basis, First Legislative Counsel (the chief Legal draftsman) circulates their almost endless roster of work to ask Cabinet to priorize their workload on a quarterly basis.  About the only thing that Mr McCallum got correct is the fact that Government’s legal drafting resources are stretched to the limit.  If the private sector wants to help, hire a few qualified legal draftsman and donate their labour to Government! 

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is very little UK legislation that could be adopted wholesale for Cayman. Our situation in Cayman does not resemble the situation of the UK. Just because it is from the UK doesn’t mean it is always superior .

  4. David Phipps says:

    How many years to get a change to differentiate between the Blue and Green iguana on a protected species list? The Green Iguana is not native here and endanger many bird species. There was no distinction between Blue and Green in the Animals Law of the mid-1960’s. The National Conservation Law has been ready for passage since about 2001, I believe, in which the difference is stated. The chickens compete with native bird species as well. Between the two, our local bird stocks are taking a pounding.

    If it takes this long to get beneficial change for animal species, which one would think might be fairly straightforward, I can’t imagine how much longer it might take to pass people-oriented change for our families, friends and neighbours.

    I believe a resident of Little Cayman imported an electric vehicle about 5 years ago. Ever since then, we understand that there’s been a legislative change promised to the Traffic Law.Cayman can ill-afford to be the last jurisdiction to embrace progressive change and new technologies.Memory escapes me but didn’t the last Traffic Law take about 7 years to pass?At only 5 years this time, maybe the process is speeding up.

    The cost of drafting legislation in Cayman is paid from a population of 50-60,000. The cost of drafting legislation in the U.K. is paid from a populationof about 60,000,000. An amateur might assume therefore ,that we could be  paying approximately 1000times as much per person for this legislation.

    Generally,why can’t we adopt more legislation from the U.K. for use here? The U.K. legislation would have been tested in court perhaps thousands of times and would not be so"full of holes".