Law Reform Commission proposes end to separate appeal tribunals

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

A new discussion paper from the Law Reform Commission is proposing the creation of a consolidated appeals tribunal and the abolishment of most of the existing specialist tribunals, including those set-up for immigration, planning, labour and other administrative matters.

The Commission is inviting the public to comment on the discussion paper for the new Appeals Tribunal which it said was prepared in response to a referral by Attorney
General Samuel Bulgin back in 2019.

The aim was to determine whether a centralised appeals tribunal should be established in substitution for the current arrangements for separate appeal tribunals for planning, immigration, labour and others.

The Commission, in its discussion paper, supports creating a consolidated administrative appeals tribunal, acknowledging that it requires legislation to establish the tribunal and
provide for its jurisdiction, structure, membership, powers and procedures.

“Legislation would also be required to amend existing laws to abolish the tribunals to be consolidated, and to provide for decisions under those laws to be appealed to the new administrative appeals tribunal,” the paper stated.

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It recommends the new tribunal – the Cayman Islands Administrative Appeals Tribunal (the “CIAAT”), have jurisdiction to hear all appeals that currently go to the existing appeals tribunals, with the exception of the Mental Health Review Commission.

“The Mental Health Review Commission has functions in addition to hearing appeals and has a highly specialised membership,” it said.

If successful, the proposed consolidated tribunal will replace 11 existing tribunals including the Civil Service Appeals Commission, Immigration Appeals Tribunal, Planning Appeals Tribunal and the Planning Appeals Tribunal (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) among others.

The Commission proposes the membership structure to include a president and a deputy president, each of whom must hold the qualifications and experience required for appointment as a judge under the Grand Court Act (2015 Revision); have at least 2 other legal members, who are attorneys-at-law of at least 7 years’ standing; and such other ordinary members as are required, who hold experience or qualifications relevant to the work of the tribunal.

Appointments to the tribunal, it proposed, should be made by an independent panel of suitably-qualified persons.

“The Commission seeks input regarding the appropriate composition of that panel. It is important that the appointing panel is free from political influence and has a sufficient understanding of the work of the Tribunal to make high quality appointments,” the paper stated.

It also contended that certain specialist tribunals could be retained, if it would be inappropriate to transfer their functions to a generalist tribunal.

In outlining the benefits of the consolidated tribunal, the Commission said, there is potential to substantively improve access to justice and an opportunity to consolidate tribunal membership, including by having full-time members.

The paper can be viewed here, or at the Commission’s website or or a copy may be collected from the Offices of the Commission.

Submissions should be forwarded no later than 15th March, 2022 to the Director of the Commission either (a) electronically to [email protected] or (b) in writing, by post or hand delivered to the Office of the Commission on the 4th Floor, Government Administration Building, Portfolio of Legal Affairs, 133 Elgin Avenue, George Town.

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