Liquor Board rules ‘missing’ 4 years

The rules that Cayman’s Liquor
Licensing Board operates under are still not a public document, despite
numerous claims from the Complaints Commissioner’s office that the rules be set
down and made available to licence applicants.

The issue has been lingering in the
Cayman Islands for four years.

According to an annual report made
public in the Legislative Assembly last week, the board has the power to make
its own rules. However, the report noted, those rules have never been set out
in a specific document; rather they have been recorded in the minutes of
previous meetings of the liquor board on a case-by-case basis.

“As a consequence, the public did
not have access to the rules, procedures and precedents of the board,” the OCC
said in its annual report.

Former Complaints Commissioner John
Epp summed it up this way: 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.

In a previous report, Mr. Epp said
his office 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 Friday, two days shy of four
years on, those rules had not been made public.

“If the rules and procedures and
precedents are easily accessed, then each entrepreneur has an equal chance at
getting a licence,” Mr. Epp said in his extraordinary report on the matter from
2008. “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 the board had unfairly processed
his liquor licence renewal application. The complaints commissioner
subsequently found that the board’s decision was based on sound reasoning.

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
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.

Liquor licensing board officials
said Friday that they had received no update recently on the status of the
rules.

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