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Constitutional dissonance and the rule of law in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Clegg, Peter; O'Brien, Derek


Peter Clegg
Head of Department of Health & Social Sciences and Associate Professor

Derek O'Brien


Richard Albert

Derek O'Brien

Se-shauna Wheatle


The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is one of 14 Overseas Territories (OTs) still overseen by the United Kingdom (UK) (as described by Susan Dickson in Chapter xx). The TCI, as well as the other OTs, is a remnant of the British Empire. The territory, situated 920 kilometres southeast of Miami and about 50 kilometres southeast of the Bahamas, has had a torrid recent political and constitutional history, with weak political institutions and corruption being significant concerns. This chapter focuses on the breakdown in the rule of law that has occurred in the TCI over the last decade or so and the constitutional and political dissonance to which this has given rise in the relationship between the TCI and British Government. The chapter considers the Commission of Inquiry that was established by Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in 2008 to investigate serious allegations of corruption in the territory; the legal challenges both to the very existence of the Commission of Inquiry as well as to its recommendations; the subsequent period of direct rule from London; and, finally, the legal challenges arising from the trial of the former Premier Michael Misick, and a number of his fellow ministers on charges of fraud and corruption. The chapter unpicks the political, constitutional, and legal ramifications of these developments, which include the right of the British Government to impose direct rule on a British Overseas Territory (BOT), to dissolve its duly elected legislature, and to abrogate the constitutional rights of its citizens. In so doing we aim to reveal how effectively (or not) the present relationship operates, and the lessons it offers not just for the TCI but for all of the OTs. Some context is also important to understand what has gone on in the TCI, so the chapter begins with a little background on the territory itself, its key characteristics, and how relations with the UK have gradually formalised over time.


Clegg, P., & O'Brien, D. (2020). Constitutional dissonance and the rule of law in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In R. Albert, D. O'Brien, & S. Wheatle (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Constitutions (582-605). Oxford University Press

Publication Date Jul 28, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 20, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2022
Pages 582-605
Series Title Oxford Handbooks
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Caribbean Constitutions
Chapter Number 21
ISBN 9780198793045
Public URL
Publisher URL


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