Cayman Islands: Cayman Confidential

Last Updated: 10 July 2017
Article by Conyers

Bernadette Carey explains the Cayman Islands' new legislation on the disclosure of confidential information.

Key Points

    With the global push towards cross-border sharing of data, it is important to stay up to date with the implementation of legislation governing the protection and disclosure of confidential information.
    The Cayman Islands' Confidential Information Disclosure Law, 2016 clarifies the law regarding disclosure of such information located there, and offers both guidance and solutions concerning the appropriateness of such disclosure.
    The law reflects a modern approach to the disclosure of confidential information in offshore jurisdictions, and is a helpful tool for professionals dealing with requests for such disclosure.

Given the global push for cross-border information-sharing and transparency, the recent repeal of the Cayman Islands' Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law (2015 Revision) (the Law) and the introduction, in July 2016, of its replacement – the Confidential Information Disclosure Law, 2016 (the CIDL) – have been the subject of much international interest.

The Law, which operated to protect the confidentiality of information pertaining to certain commercial activities and business dealings taking place in the Cayman Islands, had, for many years, been referred to colloquially, and perhaps somewhat unfairly, as 'Cayman's secrecy law'. Its repeal has, in some quarters at least, been heralded as the beginning of the end for the protection of confidential information in offshore financial centres, and a gateway to the wholesale sharing of any and all information between the Cayman Islands and other jurisdictions.

However, this is not the case. The CIDL in fact reflects a concerted effort by local lawmakers to cooperate with global transparency initiatives in respect of certain categories of confidential information, while still allowing for the important protections given to that information in the Cayman Islands, both by statute and common law.


A product of the mid-1970s, the Law operated to protect a number of different categories of confidential information located in the Cayman Islands, regardless of the origin of the information.  'Confidential information' was defined as 'information concerning any property which the recipient thereof is not, otherwise than in the normal course of business, authorised by the principal to divulge'.

Section 3 of the Law stated that it applied to all confidential information 'with respect to business of a professional nature which arises in or is brought into the Islands and to all persons coming into possession of such information at any time thereafter whether they be within the jurisdiction or thereout'.

Section 5 prohibited holders of such confidential information from attempting, offering or threatening to divulge it; wilfully obtaining or attempting to obtain it; and making use of it for the benefit of any person, either clandestinely or without the consent of the person who imparted it. Exceptions to these prohibitions allowed for the disclosure of confidential information by specified groups of people, including a professional person acting in the normal course of business with the consent of the person who imparted the confidential information; a police officer investigating an offence; the Financial Secretary of the Cayman Islands; and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.

Perhaps most importantly, and controversially, the Law contained criminal sanctions. Any person who was found to have divulged, threatened to divulge, wilfully obtained or attempted to disclose any confidential information in breach of the Law's provisions would be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a maximum of two years, and a fine of no more than KYD5,000 (USD6,100). However, not a single prosecution was pursued in the 40 years that the Law was in force, suggesting that these particular provisions were somewhat hollow.


Where questions as to the appropriateness or necessity of disclosure of confidential information arose in the context of litigation, the Law provided a unique avenue of relief. Section 4 provided that, where no exception in s3(2) applied, confidential information could be disclosed in connection with legal proceedings, provided that the person intending to make the disclosure first obtained the permission of the Grand Court. The Grand Court has construed the 'proceedings' captured by s4 very narrowly, so as to include ordinary litigation in the Cayman Islands courts, civil litigation in progress in another country, and investigations occurring under the authority and supervision of a court in a foreign country. In the course of considering a s4 application, the Grand Court was empowered to do one of a number of things specified by the Law: it could direct that the evidence comprising the confidential information was to be given; not to be given; or to be given subject to conditions designed to safeguard, as far as possible, the confidentiality of the information.


Despite being a generally helpful tool for the preservation and controlled disclosure of sensitive and confidential information in the Cayman Islands, the Law was a contentious statute for the jurisdiction in its original form. The existence of the criminal sanctions was particularly troublesome, and so frequently highlighted by detractors of the Law (despite the fact that, as noted above, no such sanctions were ever imposed) that they appeared to serve merely as ammunition against the jurisdiction. The lack of clarity around the actual scope of the Law and its true intentions meant it was ripe for refreshment and modernisation.


On 22 July 2016, the CIDL was enacted to provide a more modern approach to the protection and disclosure of confidential information, and it is now in effect. In place of the Law, the CIDL provides for disclosure of confidential information in a wider range of specific circumstances, both without the sanction of the Grand Court and without the threat of criminal sanctions. However, in doing so, the CIDL does not entirely disregard its origins; many of the Law's provisions have been subsumed into the CIDL and remain in use.

Under the CIDL, 'confidential information' is now defined to include 'information, arising in or brought into the Islands, concerning any property of a principal, to whom a duty of confidence is owed by the recipient of the information', and the Law otherwise makes it clear that the prohibitions on disclosure in the CIDL will now apply only where a person actually owes a duty of confidence, pursuant to common law, as opposed to operating as a blanket ban as they did under the Law.

Perhaps the biggest change is that it is no longer a criminal offence to disclose confidential information. The removal of the criminal sanctions has the effect of providing for liability for breach of confidence to be determined (as is the case in most other common-law jurisdictions) not as a criminal matter, but according to common law and the rule of equity. The ban on disseminating confidential information has therefore shifted from one of criminal liability to one of a civil duty of confidentiality, and it will be up to individuals and companies to take a breach of the duty of confidence into their own hands, by instituting proceedings in the civil courts for breach of common law and equitable rights (a cause of action often pursued before the Grand Court already), and the common law will continue to evolve in this regard.

The circumstances in which disclosure can be made have also been expanded. Section 3(1) CIDL offers a more clearly articulated list of the circumstances in which disclosure is authorised, and the authorities to whom confidential information can be disclosed without the risk of any civil or criminal liability. These include local tax, law-enforcement and financial regulatory authorities, pursuant to a right or duty created by any other law or regulation of the Cayman Islands, such as the Proceeds of Crime Law (2014 Revision) and the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Law (2015 Revision).

Section 3(2) CIDL is new and introduces a further exemption permitting the disclosure of confidential information relating to the commission of a criminal offence; a failure to comply with a legal obligation; a miscarriage of justice; or corruption, dishonesty or serious maladministration. It also allows for disclosure of confidential information pertaining to a serious threat to the life, health or safety of a person, or in relation to a serious threat to the environment. However, in all such cases, the person making the disclosure must have acted 'in good faith and in the reasonable belief that the information was substantially true and disclosed evidence of wrongdoing'. The CIDL, therefore, effectively introduces a 'whistle-blowing' defence for disclosures of confidential information made in good faith, and is broadly consistent with the common-law defence of a disclosure being made in the public interest.

Helpfully, s4 of the Law has been reproduced, largely intact, in the CIDL, with some minor changes to clarify the intended effect of the section and the role of the Grand Court. As with the Law, the CIDL contains provisions to seek the Court's direction where a person intends, or is required, to give evidence in or in connection with any proceeding. The preservation and clarification of these particular provisions is of great assistance not only to trustees, but also to all whose actions or information may fall within the ambit of the CIDL.


The repeal of the Law has not in fact removed the protections available to confidential information in the Cayman Islands. Instead, the Law has been retired to make way for the more modern and practical CIDL, which will continue to guard against the unwarranted disclosure of confidential information, without imposing the heavy-handed sanctions so frequently highlighted under the previous regime. Its enactment is a positive development for the jurisdiction, consistent with the steps taken in other areas of Cayman law to shore up global cooperation in the investigation of criminal activity, and recognise the need for both confidentiality in certain circumstances and disclosure in others.

Originally published by Step Journal, June 2017.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions