Freedom of Information
WHAT FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IS
Access to information promotes governmental accountability, transparency, and public participation in national decision-making. The Freedom of Information Law (2020 Revision) reinforces and gives further effect to these fundamental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy by granting to the public a general right of access to records held by the Cayman Islands Government.
Freedom of Information is an essential human right enshrined in our Constitution. The Freedom of Information (FOI) Law was first enacted in the Cayman Islands in 2007 and came into force on 5 January 2009.
Many other laws and administrative procedures allow you to access information and records from the Cayman Islands Government, including your own personal information. Sometimes you must make a formal application and supply specific details (e.g. a police report), pay a fee (e.g. a birth certificate), or access the information in a specific way (e.g. inspection of a public register). It is also possible that the information you are seeking is available from a public authority in the normal course of business and you do not need to make a formal FOI request.
The FOI Law supplements other methods of access to information by encouraging proactive publication and granting you the right to request records that are not otherwise available to you.
FOI at the department of education services
For further information about DES Freedom of Information, or to make an FOI request please email DES Information Manager Nicki Samuels:
The Freedom of Information Unit provides guidance, assistance and training to public authorities on the Freedom of Information Law, and promotes awareness of the Law and open government across the public sector.
GENERAL INFORMATION – HOW TO MAKE AN FOI REQUEST
We want to help you find what you are interested in. Before making an FOI request, we encourage you to look at our publications to see if the information you are seeking has already been published. If you can’t find what you are looking for, anyone, of any age, anywhere in the world can make an FOI request directly to a public authority.
Each Ministry, Portfolio, Office, Department, Statutory Authority and Government Company (together, “public authorities”) has a designated Information Manager and FOI email address to receive and process requests for information.
Click below to see a list of public authorities and their contact details for FOI requests.
FOI requests must be in writing and do not need to include a reason. While you must include a name and contact details, unless you are seeking your own personal information an alias can be used.
The FOI Law applies to records held by the Cayman Islands Government, which are information in any form – including documents, maps, plans, graphs or drawings, photographs, and audio or video recordings. While you might not know exactly what records are relevant to your request, please be as specific as possible about the information you are seeking, as this will help you get a prompt response.
There is no application fee and you will never be charged to inspect records. However, you may be required to pay copying or change of format fees before accessing information in certain ways. There is also a CI$50 fee for expedited service, which is payable when you make your application. The Information Manager in the relevant public authority will help you to understand if any fees apply to your request.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When an FOI request is received by a public authority, the Information Manager will have 10 days to acknowledge receipt and 30 days to provide a response. While this timeframe may be extended to 60 days if there is reasonable cause, you will be informed of the extension before the initial deadline has passed.
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.
The FOI Law excludes from its scope 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 Law 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 for the public authority.
The Ombudsman is the independent oversight body for FOI in the Cayman Islands. Among other duties, the quasi-judicial Office of the Ombudsman promotes general awareness of the FOI Law, handles complaints and appeals, monitors and reports on compliance, and makes general or specific recommendations for reform.
You can learn more about FOI and the Ombudsman’s role at ombudsman.ky/foi.
THE INFORMATION RIGHTS UNIT
The Information Rights Unit within the Cabinet Office coordinates support for Information Managers and other public servants, providing training and guidance in relation to FOI and Data Protection. The team also promotes best practice within public authorities and develops policies, tools and procedures for effective implementation of information rights legislation.
If you are a public servant and want to learn more about your responsibilities under the FOI Law, please email InformationRights@gov.ky.