Crown dependencies escape new transparency law by the skin of their teeth

02/05/2018 John Evans, International Editor,

The Channel Islands' governments have avoided a constitutional clash, after measures to impose new transparency laws were dropped from a UK parliamentary bill.

But the bill will apply to British overseas territories like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands – setting a stage for potential legal challenges. Not least they can point to the uneven playing field created by excluding the Crown Dependencies from the bill.

Earlier this week, Jersey had led warnings to the government that the island would face a constitutional crisis as well as a threat to the future of its finance industry.

Chief Minister and Senator Ian Gorst had said that Jersey would resist any such interference in island affairs.

In reactions, minister Gorst said noted that the “UK Parliament has chosen not to seek to impose its will on Jersey, in direct contradiction to constitutional convention and ignoring the substantial work of the Island in matters of transparency and robust financial regulation.”

He added: “This decision recognises the constitutional autonomy of the Island, and preserves the established historical relationship between Jersey and the UK .We will continue to pursue the highest international standards and will consult with the UK in relation to their implementation – including of the fourth and fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directives, the EU’s progressive legislation designed to counter money laundering.”

Gavin St Pier, Guernsey's Chief Minister said, said the amendment, as first drafted, “would have created a constitutional breach for the UK”.

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