5 Essex Court

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29 Mar 19 Back to Listing

Peter Laverack in landmark ruling that legally recognises same-sex marriage in a British Overseas Territory

Peter Laverack of 5 Essex Court, led by Edward Fitzgerald QC and​ local silk Ben Tonner QC of McGrath Tonner, successfully represented the petitioners (Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush) in the first case of its kind in the Caribbean. The Chief Justice modified the Marriage Law with immediate effect to allow same-sex marriage.  He found that the rights to a private and family life, free conscience and equality had been violated, and that the dignity of the petitioners would only be restored by allowing them to marry.

The couple applied for the right to be married last year, which was promptly rejected by the Cayman Islands on the grounds that they are a same-sex couple. The Cayman Islands authorities failed to act to protect Day, Bodden Bush and their daughter. Bodden Bush, who is not Caymanian, was denied a spousal visa and Day was not recognised as mother to their daughter who they jointly adopted in England.  The couple brought dual judicial review and constitutional proceedings to assert their rights to a private and family life, to found a family, to freedom of conscience and to non-discrimination.  The Chief Justice held on 29 March 2019 that each of these rights had been violated.

Peter Laverack, a barrister at 5 Essex Court, acting on behalf of the petitioners, said: "Chantelle's  and Vickie's relationship finally has been recognised.  For too long they and their daughter were denied what loving couples and ordinary families take for granted.  The Chief Justice's judgment beautifully combines the common law and European Court case law, with a healthy dose of common sense. Equality means equality. Love is love."

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