It still is, of course, but in recent years it has increasingly been overridden and the focus has been on transparency, openness and access to information. To the point where in the Cayman Islands the existence of a law from the 1970s aimed at preserving confidentiality had become a stick for offshore-bashers and an awkward anachronism, no longer consistent with Cayman’s position at the forefront of the global move towards transparency, cooperation, mutual assistance and information-sharing with other countries.
The Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law, originally enacted in 1976, did not intend to widen the ambit of duties of confidentiality (though it arguably did so through imprecise drafting), but sought to reinforce them by imposing criminal penalties for the disclosure of confidential information.
Despite the fact that noone in the 40 years of the law’s existence was ever prosecuted, it did have a certain deterrent effect, and had been reported far and wide as Cayman’s “banking secrecy law.”
Although the only one of its provisions that was ever regularly used was in fact a section authorising disclosure, it was regularly cited by those pursuing a political agenda hostile to international financial centers, as evidence that Cayman was a “secrecy jurisdiction” and a tax haven.
It had to go. So in July 2016, the Confidential Information Disclosure Law, 2016, came into force to repeal and replace the old law — a change widely welcomed by Cayman’s legal and financial services community.