In this case, the Chief Justice (Smellie CJ) heard a judicial review of a decision by the Cayman Islands CAA (“the CAACI”) to grant certification for a heliport in George Town, from which tourist flights over Grand Cayman were operated. The heliport operator was joined as an interested party.

Certification had taken place under the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2007 (“the ANOTO”), itself based on the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (“the OTARS”): it is the operative Order governing the operation of aerodromes in the Overseas Territories. This case is therefore of importance to those concerned with the certification of aerodromes (heliports in particular) in the Overseas Territories, and from which tourist flights may be common.

The Plaintiff (“Axis”) contended that the grant of the certificate was unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense: the CAACI was required to take into account the matters set out in the OTARs, and that in failing properly to apply them, or in granting important exemptions, its decision was irrational. Axis also raised complaints as to the heliport manual: under the ANOTO, the manual was required to be “adequate”.

The Grand Court granted permission for expert evidence to be adduced (an exceptional course in judicial review), as to technical issues concerning aviation operations and flight safety. The matters reviewed by the Court included markings required for the Final Approach and Take-off Area (“FATO”), whether the surface of the Safety Area was continuous with that of the FATO, obstacles within the Secondary Safety Area, and limitations for operating with tailwinds on departure (in keeping with the performance characteristics of the helicopter using the heliport).

The Grand Court concluded that the decision to certify the heliport was unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense, declaring the certification not to be in compliance with the ANOTO and the standards of the OTARs; and nor was the manual “adequate” within the meaning of Article 102 of the ANOTO.

Philip Brook Smith QC acted for Axis, the successful Plaintiff, instructed by Matthew Crawford of Maples & Calder.