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PPC Decision

Jersey Development Company is obviously disappointed with the outcome of the Privileges & Procedures Committee (PPC) review.   Whilst the PPC has taken some practical steps to try to limit the chances of commercially sensitive information being disclosed to the Company’s competitors, the Jersey Development Company remains extremely concerned about the implications of this decision.

The States of Jersey established the Jersey Development Company as a limited company to operate at arm’s length from government in order for it to successfully compete in the commercial world on behalf of taxpayers.  The demand to release confidential and commercially sensitive information covered by legally binding third party Non-Disclosure Agreements to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel (CSSP) compromises the ability of the Company to do that. 

Jersey Development Company acknowledges that there must be a mechanism by which the CSSP can ensure that States owned companies act appropriately and deliver proper value for money, but believes this should be achieved by having CSSP appoint independent specialists to investigate and report.  This ensures that the persons conducting the investigation have both the appropriate expertise and impartiality, but also that commercially sensitive information disclosed for the purposes of the investigation cannot be put in the public domain, to the prejudice of the legitimate commercial interests of the Company being investigated. 

In this case, CSSP appointed EY (formerly Ernst & Young) as independent experts and Jersey Development Company provided them with complete disclosure of all information requested for their review.  Jersey Development Company can see no public interest in that same information now being given to CSSP panel members, none of whom are commercial property experts and who would be at liberty to publicly disclose the confidential information in the States Chamber under the protection of parliamentary privilege.  This would be hugely damaging to the Company, and ultimately the taxpayers of Jersey.

The ramifications of this decision go far beyond the Jersey Development Company, as it sets a precedent whereby all States owned companies could be forced to provide commercially sensitive information to individuals without any assurance of confidentiality.

Given the serious ramifications of this decision and the precedent it sets for the future, the Board of Directors will be taking further advice from their legal advisers with regard to the possibility of a Judicial Review of this decision.  

In the meantime, the Company would welcome a constructive debate regarding a more appropriate mechanism for balancing the legitimate interests of the States of Jersey in overseeing its commercially owned entities, and the need to preserve their commercial value for tax payers. 

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