The Plain Meaning Rule and Transitional Provisions in Legislation

Occasional Misunderstandings

  • Bilika H Simamba


In the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, the Grand Court, purportedly applying the plain meaning rule, held that the Health Services Authority Law barred suits against government hospitals unless there was bad faith. Within about six weeks, the Government amended the provision to expressly add negligence as a ground of suit. An attempt to apply the amended legislation to the case that led to the amendment failed. This note examines whether the plain meaning rule was properly applied and the extent to which matters pending before courts and other public authorities can be affected by new legislation.

Keywords: presumption against retrospectivity; transitional; procedural legislation; vested rights; pending; immediate effect; Hansard; retrospective; retroactive.


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