Cayman Demonstrates Commitment to Transparency

02/16/2018

The Whistleblower Protection Law (2015 Revision) (the “Law”) came into effect on the 1st February 2018, two and a half years after the bill was passed. The passage of the Law demonstrates Cayman’s commitment to being a transparent jurisdiction with low tolerance for illegal or improper conduct.

The aim of the Law is to provide protection to employees who disclose information which is in the public interest to the Ombudsman regarding an employer’s improper conduct. Improper conduct is defined in the Law as:

(a) a criminal offence which has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed;
(b) a failure to carry out a legal obligation;
(c) conduct that has resulted, is resulting or is likely to result in a miscarriage of justice;
(d) conduct which is or is likely to be a detrimental action;
(e) conduct that has resulted, is resulting or is likely to result, in a violation of the human rights set out in the Constitution of the Islands;
(f) conduct that has resulted, is resulting or is likely result, in a threat to the health or safety of a person or of the public;
(g) conduct that has resulted, is resulting or is likely to result, in a threat or damage to the environment;
(h) conduct that shows gross mismanagement, impropriety or misconduct in the carrying out of any activity that involves the use of public funds; or
(i) wilful concealment of any act described in paragraphs (a) to (h);

The Law protects the employee from “detrimental action” such as intimidation, discrimination, adverse treatment or retaliation by employers or other employees in circumstances where the employee discloses information that is in the public’s interest. If any such detrimental action is taken by another employee or employer against a whistle-blower, it may be deemed a criminal offence carrying a custodial sentence. The whistle-blower may also, among other things, seek damages against the person who takes detrimental action against him.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, an employee will not be protected under the Law for:

(i) disclosing information that is legally privileged;
(ii) stealing in order to obtain such information;
(iii) information that is not in the public’s interest.

Employers would be well-advised to become familiar with the Law and its parameters.

The information contained in this bulletin is provided for the general interest of our readers, but is not intended to constitute legal advice. Clients and the general public are encouraged to seek specific advice on matters of concern. This bulletin can in no way serve as a substitute in such cases. Copyright ©2017 Higgs & Johnson. All rights reserved.

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