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Case details

Day and another (Appellants) v The Government of the Cayman Islands and another (Respondents) (Cayman Islands)

Case ID: JCPC 2020/0033

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands

Case summary

Issue

(1) Does the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Cayman Islands provide a right for Ms Day and Ms Bush to access the institution of marriage?

(2) If so, should the Order of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands – which modified the Marriage Law so as that "marriage" is defined to mean "the union between two people as one another’s spouses" – be restored?

Facts

Ms Chantelle Day and Ms Vickie Bodden Bush are two adult women in a committed relationship. They live with their daughter in the Cayman Islands, and wish to marry there. In 2018, the Deputy Registrar refused their application for the appropriate marriage licence, on the basis that the Marriage Law of the Cayman Islands defines "marriage" to mean "the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife".

Ms Day and Ms Bush sought to challenge the Marriage Law and the Deputy Registrar’s decision as incompatible with the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Cayman Islands. They were successful at first instance. The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands found there to be violations of their right to private and family life, their freedom of conscience and freedom to manifest their belief in marriage, and their freedom from discrimination in the enjoyment of their rights. The Court exercised its power under the Constitution to modify the Marriage Law so as that "marriage" was defined to mean "the union between two people as one another’s spouses".

The Deputy Registrar and the Attorney General appealed successfully against that decision to the Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands, which decided that the right to marry under the Caymanian Constitution does not extend to same-sex couples. The Court of Appeal did, however, declare that Ms Day and Ms Bush were entitled to legal protection functionally equivalent to marriage.

Ms Day and Ms Bush now appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Day and another

Respondent(s)

Government of the Cayman Islands and another

Appeal

Justices

Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lady Arden, Lord Sales, Dame Victoria Sharp

Hearing start date

23 Feb 2021

Hearing finish date

24 Feb 2021

Watch hearing
23 Feb 2021 Morning session Afternoon session
24 Feb 2021 Morning session Afternoon session