The Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act promotes government accountability, transparency, and public participation in national decision-making by granting the public a general right of access to records held by the Cayman Islands Government. It also requires that certain information be made available proactively.
The FOI Act applies to “public authorities”, which are all Ministries, Portfolios, Offices, Departments, Statutory Authorities or Bodies, and Government Companies. If the information you are seeking is held by a public authority in connection with its functions, the FOI Act applies to that record. Under the FOI Act, records are defined as “information held in any form”, including documents, maps, plans, graphs or drawings, photographs, and audio or video recordings. Records can be requested by the public regardless of the date they were created or who created or supplied the records.
Each public authority has a designated Information Manager who processes FOI requests. You can email your FOI request to the public authority’s FOI email address which can be found here.
If your request is processed under the FOI Act, you will receive a written acknowledgement within 10 days. The public authority must also provide you with a decision as soon as practicable, but no more than 30 days from the day your request was received unless a 30-day extension is taken for good cause. If the public authority requires an extension of time, you will be informed before the first 30 days expires.
A list of all public authorities and the name and contact details for their Information Managers can be found here: List of Public Authorities.
If you intend to make the same request to all public authorities, or if you don’t know where to direct your request after consulting the list above, you may send your request to email@example.com with an explanation. The Information Rights Unit in the Cabinet Office, which helps to coordinate FOI across the public sector, will then direct your request appropriately and the relevant public authority or public authorities will respond directly to you. On occasion, requests that cover multiple public authorities will be centrally managed to give you one point of contact, to ensure communications are clear, and to ensure you receive all records that you are entitled to access under the FOI Act.
FOI requests must be in writing (via email is the most common method). While requests must include a name and contact information, the name you provide can be an alias or pseudonym if you would like to make an anonymous request. However, if you are requesting your own personal information, identity verification is required. While providing a reason for your request may help the public authority to identify relevant records, this is optional. A public authority cannot require you to provide a reason for your request or ask what you intend to do with the information.
When Information Managers receive requests for information they evaluate them to determine if the information is:
The FOI Act allows you to request access to records that are held by the Cayman Islands Government. If your request is unclear or does not include enough information to identify the records you are seeking, the Information Manager will consult you and assist in identifying records that may be relevant to your application.
If you have general questions you would like to ask, or if you would like to make a journalistic or media inquiry, your question may be directed to a communications lead or other appropriate person to provide you with answers in the normal course of business (outside of the formal FOI process), including communication via phone. If you would then like to request any relevant records, they will either be provided to you in the normal course of business or processed under FOI by the relevant Information Manager.
The FOI Act does not apply to certain public functions or records – including the judicial functions of a Court, strategic or operational intelligence-gathering activities of the security or intelligence services, and private holdings of the National Archive – and does not override other legislation that restricts access to records.
The general right of access in the FOI Act is also subject to limited exemptions which balance the right of access against the public interest in not disclosing information that would prejudice governmental or commercial interests or constitute an unreasonable disclosure of personal information of a third party.
In limited instances, there may be procedural reasons why an FOI request is not granted, e.g. compliance with the request would amount to an unreasonable diversion of resources and the Information Manager is unable to sufficiently narrow the scope following consultation with the applicant.
If you have made an FOI request and do not receive everything you have asked for, you are entitled to a written response that explains the reasons for that decision. You will also have the right to appeal that decision if you are not satisfied. In the first instance, this is usually by way of internal review by the Chief Officer or Head of Department.
The Ombudsman is the supervisory authority for FOI in the Cayman Islands. As an impartial and independent office of Parliament, the Ombudsman handles complaints and appeals, monitors and reports on compliance, makes general or specific recommendations for reform, and is responsible for public education. The Ombudsman also reports to Parliament on the operations of the FOI Act and may undertake investigations, either proactively or in response to a complaint.
You can learn more about FOI and the Ombudsman’s role at ombudsman.ky/foi.
Updated 15 March 2023.