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  • Islands celebrate launch of FoI

    Posted on August 17th, 2009 admin No comments
    Why do people in the Caymans need an extra 10 days to respond to a FoI request?

    Why do people in the Caymans need an extra 10 days to respond to a FoI request?

    As our “barbeque summer” disappears down the storm drain I thought people might want my blog to take them somewhere a little more exotic this morning – so we are off to the Cayman Islands.

    Despite having all the sun and sand imaginable it would appear that lives for the islands residents have just got even better – with the introduction of their own Freedom of Information Act.

    It came into force in January, its Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert has issued her first decision notice and the similarities with the way the progression of the Act happened in the UK are uncanny.

    Staffing levels at the islands’ Commissioners office are something of a problem. Although the Commissioner has one admin staff and recently employed an Assistant Commissioner there had been a moratorium on hiring other staff – and guess what “The Commissioner notified the public in the form of a press release that, due to her inability to properly staff the office, they might experience delays in processing appeals.”


    Life is a little more relaxed in the Caymans and public authorities there have 30 days – not 20 – to respond to an FoI inquiry.

    It would appear that the islands’ media are some of the keenest user of the new Act and they are responsible for the first decision notice relating to the pay levels within a Government Department.

    The media wanted the names, job titles and salaries of individuals within the Government Information Services (GIS). The authority had refused and Ms Dilbert had to step in.

    She ruled that the most senior officers salaries should be disclosed but that employees lower down the ladder should be protected. Other employees salaries could be given within $10,000 bands. A decision with uncanny similarities to those issued in this country.

    Other issues the commissioner has been asked to consider are:

    • a request from the media for water quality tests results relating to sewage treatment works,
    • a wrongly convicted man wanted additional information about the Government’s decision to compensate him for his incarceration – it was ruled there were no extra documents in existence,
    • if the local police force should be allowed a time extension to consider a question about official policy to the islands’ officers ‘moonlighting’ with second jobs,
    • the media was told it would have to wait for an official report to be published before it could see figures relating to the health of the pension pot for the islands’ civil servants.

    It appears Ms Dilbert is coming over to the UK in September to visit the offices of the Scottish Information Commissioner – pack a waterproof.

    For those interested in the operations of Cayman Islands FoI legislation the office can be found [here] . I believe all the jobs have gone!