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 require that the Marriage Law of the Cayman Islands be interpreted so as to define "marriage" to include the union of same-sex couples?

(2) If same-sex couples are instead only entitled to legal protection which is functionally equivalent to marriage, have the Government and Governor of the Cayman Islands unlawfully failed to put that protection into effect?

Facts

Ms Chantelle Day and Ms Vickie Bodden Bush are a same-sex couple who wish to marry in the Cayman Islands. 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 applied to the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands for a declaration that the Marriage Law does not conform with their rights under the Bill of Rights which forms part of the Constitution of the Cayman Islands, and that that Law should be modified accordingly. The Grand Court found in their favour, deciding that the Marriage Law should be read as defining "marriage" 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 Bill of Rights does not guarantee same-sex couples the right to marry. The Court of Appeal did, however, declare that Ms Day and Ms Bush were entitled to legal protection functionally equivalent to marriage, which the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands had failed to ensure.

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 Fed 2021

Hearing finish date

23 Feb 2021