03 May 2019 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

Ombudsman publishes summaries of selected cases and 2018 Year in Review 

The Office of the Ombudsman has added a new section to their website. Summaries of selected cases can be found under the “Outcomes” tab at Ombudsman.ky. These summaries provide insight into specific cases dealt with by the Ombudsman and include details about the resolution of those cases. Selected cases from 2018 have already been posted. The cases include complaints about the police and government as well as freedom of information appeals and whistleblower disclosures.

Year end statistics for 2018, as well as selected case summaries, are also available at https://ombudsman.ky/images/pdf//Ombudsman-Year-in-Review-2018.pdf. The Office

  • answered 229 enquiries;
  • carried forward 17 cases from 2017 (5 Maladministration Complaints, 12 FOI Appeals)
  • opened 230 cases (59 Maladministration Complaints, 143 Police Complaints, 23 FOI Appeals and 5 Whistleblower Disclosures);
  • closed 155 cases (55 Maladministration, 76 Police Complaints, 20 FOI Appeals and 4 Whistleblower Disclsoures); and
  • 92 cases were carried forward to 2019.

22 February 2019 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

The Ombudsman issues Hearing Decision 61, involving the Department of Immigration/WORC

An applicant made four separate requests under the Freedom of Information Law (2018 Revision) to the Department of Immigration for records relating to various topics, including policies, procedures and guidelines on the handling of applications for permanent residency. No initial response was given, and no internal review was conducted.

During the appeal various records were disclosed, including policies relating to applications for permanent residency. The Department advised that these policies were not in use.  The Applicant asked whether there were any policies that were in use relating to applications for permanent residency but did not receive a response. 

The Ombudsman, Sandy Hermiston, found that the Department failed to respond to the requests within the time limits established in the FOI Law. The Ombudsman also found that the Department failed to indicate whether it held the records requested by the Applicant. As well, the Department also failed to publish “records used in making decisions” as required by the FOI Law.

The Ombudsman directed the Department, now known as Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC), to provide a full answer to the Applicant, and publish its guiding documents related to the making of decisions.

The Ombudsman said: “This appeal is a good reminder that the law must be adhered to, even when public authorities are occupied with other matters.”

The decision can be found at www.ombudsman.ky/decisions 

11 February 2019 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

The Ombudsman issues Hearing Decision 66, involving the Department of Labour and Pensions 

An applicant requested a variety of records from the Department of Labour and Pensions, relating to amendments made to a pension plan trust deed in 2016 and 2017.

The Department referred the bulk of the request to the pension plan administrator who disclosed a significant amount of information to the applicant (who is a member of the pension plan), as required under the National Pensions Law and Regulations. The Department refused access to communications with their legal advisors under section 17(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law (2015 Revision) (FOI Law), and internal communications under section 20(1)(d).

The Ombudsman confirmed that the legal advice is privileged and exempted.  However, the internal communications were inconsequential and/or repeated information already known to the Applicant.  Therefore, their disclosure would not prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs, as claimed by the Department.

A small part of the request remained unanswered, and the Ombudsman directed the Department to provide a response to the Applicant within 10 days.

The Ombudsman also recommended that the Department record internal discussions, and other business and affairs, more fully in the future.

The decision can be found at www.ombudsman.ky/decisions

03 December 2018 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

The commencement of the Data Protection Law, 2017, has been postponed until September 30, 2019

Following representations from the Cayman Islands financial services industry, Cabinet has postponed the start date for the Data Protection Law, 2017 (DPL). The DPL, which was scheduled to commence January 29, 2019, is now set to commence September 30, 2019.

The official media release by the Cayman Islands Government may be viewed here as a PDF.

 

30 November 2018 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

The Ombudsman issues Hearing Decision 65, involving the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport 

An Applicant requested information under the Freedom of Information Law (2018 Revision) (FOI Law) about taxi operators such as the number of operators, how many are also employed by the Cayman Islands Government (how many are employed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Her Majesty’s Prison Service) and how many are Caymanian/status holders.

The Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport (DATT), whose Information Manager handles requests under the FOI Law for the Public Transportation Unit (PTU), argued that while the PTU holds records which may be responsive, the PTU does not keep statistics on the occupation or the place of birth of the operators. The Ministry argued that retrieving the responsive records would constitute an unreasonable diversion of resources under section 9(c) of the FOI Law.

The Ombudsman concluded that the FOI Law does not require the creation of new records such as the requested statistics. She also concluded that providing redacted copies of the application forms and supporting documentation would be excessively costly, particularly in terms of the time required to adequately redact the records and would therefore unreasonably divert the resources of the Ministry and PTU under section 9(c).      

The Ministry informed the Ombudsman that PTU intends to update its electronic system to include relevant data on public transportation operators and produce related statistics in the future.  The Ombudsman commended the Ministry/PTU for agreeing to create a record containing statistics which would be expected to be accomplished in the ordinary course of their business going forward.

No further action is required in response to this request on the part of the Ministry or PTU.  However, the Ombudsman did flag the Ministry for an audit of its information handling practices.

The decision can be found at www.ombudsman.ky/decisions.

12 July 2018 | News from the O

PRESS RELEASE

The Ombudsman issues Hearing Decision 62, concluding that the Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the Cayman Islands Institute of Public Accountants

On 12 February 2018 an individual made a request to the Cayman Islands Institute of Public Accountants (the CIIPA) for access to information including policies and procedures, and his own personal information.

 In its response the CIIPA stated that it is not a public authority, and is not subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOI Law).

The individual then made an appeal to the Ombudsman under s.42 of the FOI Law, asserting that the CIIPA is a statutory body, and therefore does fall within the definition of public authority in s.2 of the FOI Law.

In her decision, the Ombudsman Ms. Sandy Hermiston said: “Under the FOI Law the Ombudsman has the power and responsibility to hear, investigate and rule on appeals.  The question whether an entity is a public authority lies at the heart of my jurisdiction.”

Although the CIIPA was originally incorporated under the Companies Law, the organization was continued under the current Accountants Law, and is therefore a statutory body in the general sense of the term.  However, the focal point of the FOI Law is clearly on public authorities and the public sector, with numerous provisions explicitly relating to government and public affairs. Public authorities are partly or entirely funded by the Cabinet which has the power to appoint or dismiss the majority of the board or other governing body.  CIIPA’s governing body is not appointed by Cabinet and the organization is not funded by the government. Therefore, it is not part of the public sector, the FOI Law does not apply to it, and applicants do not have a legal right to access their records.

Ms. Hermiston said: “This is an important decision, since it clarifies the boundaries of the application of the FOI Law, particularly in the case of professional regulatory organizations such as the CIIPA.”

The decision can be found at www.ombudsman.ky/decisions.

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