Liquor board rules missing

The Liquor Licensing Boards of Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands play by the rules. The problem is others don’t always know what those rules are.

Mr Epp

Mr Epp

That’s the essence of the findings in an extraordinary report to the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly from the Office of the Complaints Commissioner.

Complaints Commissioner John Epp said his office has learned that a draft of the Liquor Licensing Board (Procedure) Rules for Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands was sent to the Ministry of Tourism on or before 19 September, 2006.

As of Monday, 16 months later, those rules had not been finalised and published for review by the public.

Mr. Epp said he’s received no explanation for the hold up from the ministry. Caymanian Compass requests for comment on the matter had not been returned by press time.

‘If the rules and procedures and precedents are easily accessed, then each entrepreneur has an equal chance at getting a licence,’ Mr. Epp said. ‘So young Caymanians who want to start a new business will have the same opportunity as those experienced businessmen who know how the board operates.’

The issue was raised in 2005 when a complaint was filed by a person who claimed his application for a liquor licence renewal had been unfairly processed by the board. The complaints commissioner looked into the matter and found the board’s decision was based on sound reasoning.

The OCC’s report notes: ‘Under the Liquor Licensing Law, the board has the power to regulate its own process. However, the process established had not been set apart in a specific document but was immersed in the declarations and previous decisions of the board recorded in the minutes of the meetings of the board. As a consequence, the public did not have access to the rules, procedures and precedents of the board.’

Mr. Epp said in the 2005 case, it appears the board did right. But how they arrived at that decision was somewhat of a mystery to the licence applicant.

‘This investigation, while it showed that the Liquor Licensing Board followed its own rules, it also showed that the public did not have easy access to the rules,’ he said.

In April 2006, a final draft of a handbook containing liquor board rules and procedures was approved by the board’s chairman. It was then sent to Government Information Services for publishing, but was later sent to the legal department for further drafting.

Mr. Epp said the legal department has since sent its final draft to the Ministry of Tourism.

‘Publication has been unduly delayed by the inaction of the ministry,’ he said.