The information manager for the Immigration Department is facing court action over a decision to release wage data for more than 20,000 work permit holders to the media, following an open records request.
Ernst & Young, Maples FS, KPMG and Butterfield Bank are seeking a judicial review in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands asking for the decision to release the information to be quashed.
The four companies argue that the data, which contains job title, start date, nationality and salary information, though not the names, of work permit holders, is personal and commercially sensitive.
They are seeking a final prohibitive injunction preventing any further release of the information and a mandatory injunction requiring the information manager to reveal to whom the information has previously been disclosed.
The court filing states the release of the information was illegal because “the decision maker misdirected itself in law by making the decision.” It adds that the decision was unreasonable and irrational, stating, “The decision was plainly wrong and no reasonable decision maker could have come to it.”
The Cayman Compass and blogger Kerry Tibbetts, who runs a Facebook group “I am Caymanian Where are My Rights,” are named in separate court documents as having received the data.
Ms. Tibbetts was served with an injunction prohibiting her from publishing or disseminating copies of the data.
The injunction also prohibits her from revealing the content of the spreadsheet, including salaries, nationalities, job titles and start dates of employees on work permits.
Ms. Tibbetts was also required to remove screenshots of the data from Facebook, and disclose the identities of anyone to whom she had disclosed the data.
A separate injunction has been served on the Immigration Department FOI manager preventing further release of the spreadsheet or the information it contains.
That injunction prevents “anyone with notice of this order” from disseminating or publishing the information in any newspaper, television broadcast, cable, satellite program or public computer network.”
The injunction applies “until further order or such time as these proceedings have been finally determined.” A writ of summons has also been issued against Ms. Tibbetts and “persons unknown” seeking damages for “breach of confidence” in connection with the publication of some of the data. The writ also seeks a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from publishing aspects of the information described as confidential.
The Compass had asked under FOI for information contained in work permit applications as part of planned reporting on broad national trends in wages and employment.
Ms. Tibbetts is understood to received the same data after making a similar FOI request. She said she could not comment on the court action at this time.
David R. Legge, publisher and editor of the Cayman Compass, said the newspaper had never planned to publish the spreadsheet in its entirety or in any manner that could lead to the identification of individual employees at individual companies.
“Screenshots of our own employee data were also posted on Facebook,” said Mr. Legge, “and we are taking legal counsel to determine what options may be open to us.”