January 16, 2022

Office of the Ombudsman Press Release- Hearing Decision 62 involving The Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants

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OMB Press Release:

The Ombudsman’s Office has released Decision 62 concluding that the Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the Cayman Islands Institute of Public Accountants. A press release and copy of the decision is attached for your reference.

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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