The Cayman Islands Government has published the Confidential Information Disclosure Bill 2016, which calls for the abolition of the current criminal offence for disclosure of confidential information, other than ‘in the ordinary course of business’.
It would replacing it with a new regime specifying when information may be disclosed.
According to legal services firm Appleby, the new legislation repeals the Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law, which was originally enacted in the 1970s, when Cayman as a financial centre was in its infancy.
Talking about the Confidential Relationships (Preservation Law), Appleby said: “In essence, all it does is to overlay criminal penalties on disclosures of confidential information that in most cases would be actionable by civil proceedings in any event.
“However, in the 40 years of the Law’s existence, no-one has ever been prosecuted, and the only part of the Law that is commonly used is section 4, which enables a person who intends or is being required to disclose confidential information in evidence in proceedings (whether in Cayman or elsewhere) to get the approval of the Court to so doing.”
Appbley said the new law “will essentially return the whole area of liability for breach of confidence to the realm of the common law and rules of equity.”
It also claimed that the new Bill introduces a ‘whistle-blower’ defence for disclosures made in good faith evidencing wrongdoing, a serious threat to the life, health or safety of a person or a serious threat to the environment.
This is consistent with a more general move towards protecting public interest disclosures, but would arguably be better addressed, in a more developed form, in the context of specific whistle-blower legislation which is currently under consideration, according to Appleby.
The Government has stated its intention that the Bill should pass into law by September 2016.
Cayman Islands Government, Confidential Information Disclosure Bill 2016, Secrecy laws, Confidential information, Appleby, Cayman Islands