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With the Data Protection Act (2020) taking full effect on December 1, 2023, the #1 question you, as a business owner, should be asking yourself is: am I ready/ am I compliant? Spoiler alert: if you haven’t thought about this question yet, the answer is probably no. Anyone who collects any personally identifiable information (PII) like names, addresses, contact information, etc. from persons in Jamaica will be regulated by the Data Protection Act as of December 1, 2023. Of course, medical practitioners, attorneys, pharmacies, schools, financial institutions and others who collect sensitive personal information will have higher compliance requirements, but the way the Act is written, even if you are an artist or a boutique shop and you collect email addresses for your mailing list, you are required to register with the Information Commissioner. Failure to do so could result in civil and/or criminal liability.
Your readiness and compliance will be dependent on a few factors. As we briefly explore the Act, you will get a better sense of who you are, as a business owner, in relation to the Act. This is not a comprehensive breakdown of the Act, but rather an introduction to the concepts of the Act. We recommend that our clients and prospective clients seek legal advice as it pertains to their business and their state of readiness.


  • Personal Data as defined in the Act is, “information (however stored) relating to a living individual or an individual who has been deceased for less than thirty years, who can be identified from that information alone or from that information and other information in the possession of, or likely to come into the possession of, the data controller; and includes any expression of opinion about that individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other persons in respect of that individual” This would include, for example, Names, Addresses (both mailing, email, IP), Telephone/ Fax numbers, Social Security numbers, Tax Registration Number (TRN), NIS number, Passport number, drivers licence number, credit card information/numbers, bank account number/information etc.
  • Sensitive Personal Data defined in the Act is, “Personal data consisting of any of the following information in respect of a data subject, [that being ] genetic data or biometric data; filiation, or racial or ethnic origin; political opinions, philosophical beliefs, religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature; membership in any trade union; physical or mental health or condition; sex life; the alleged commission of any offence by the data subject or any proceedings for any offence alleged to have been committed by the data subject” This would include, for example, fingerprints, facial recognition, eye/iris scans and voiceprints, mouth/tongue swabs, ‘DNA’, ancestry, health records etc.
  • Data Subject defined in the Act is, “a named or otherwise identifiable individual who is the subject of personal data, and in determining whether an individual is identifiable account shall be taken of all means used or reasonably likely to be used by the data controller or any other person, to identify the individual, such as reference to an identification number or other identifying characteristics (whether physical, social or otherwise) which are reasonably likely to lead to the identification of the individual.” In other words, if you give your Personal Data to someone else, you are a Data Subject.
  • Process defined in the Act is, “in relation to information or personal data means obtaining, recording or storing the information or personal data, or carrying out any operation or set of operations (whether or not by automated means) on the information or data, including organisation, adaption or alteration of the information or data; retrieving, consulting or using the information or data; disclosing the information or data by transmitting, disseminating or otherwise making it available; or aligning, combing, blocking, erasing or destroying the information or data, or rendering the data anonymous”. If you collect Personal Data, and store it (like on a mailing list), you are processing Personal Data under the Act.
  • Data Controller defined in the Act is, “any person or public authority, who, either alone or jointly or in common with other persons determines the purposes for which and the manner in which any personal data are, or are to be, processed, and where personal data are processed only for purposes for which they are required under any enactment to be processed, the person on whom the obligation to process the personal data is imposed by or under that enactment is for the purposes of this Act a Data Controller.”
  • Data Processor defined in the Act is, “in relation to personal data, means any person, other than an employee of the data controller, who processes the data on behalf of the data controller.”

Having looked at these key definitions, you should be closer to having an idea of who you are in relation to the Act, and how it might apply to you. If you are a business owner, you are mostly going to be either a Data Controller or a Data Processor, and in some cases you will also be a Data Subject. The distinguishing feature between a controller and a processor is that the Controller determines the purpose and manner in which the personal data or sensitive personal data will be processed, as opposed to the Processor, who follows the instruction of the Controller as to the processing of the Personal Data.

The customers/clients/ patients/ persons that you, as a business owner, provide goods and/or services to, would be considered Data Subjects under the law because you have in your possession personal data and/or personal sensitive data that identifies who they are. It should also be noted that your employees are also Data Subjects because of the personal data that you have in your possession that identifies them (e.g., their HR/Personnel File).


Having identified who you are under the Act, it should be highlighted that there are many limbs to compliance, starting with the requirements of Data Controllers. If you are a Data Controller – in other words, if you collect or process information of a Data Subject whether living, or dead within the last thirty years, then you are required by the Act to register with the Information Commissioner, and pay the applicable fee. Many – if not most – businesses in Jamaica will fall into this category. In addition, if you are a Data Controller that collects or processes Sensitive Personal Data – like health information, biometric data like fingerprints (including for attendance – like sometimes used in time clocks or to access secure areas), information on criminal records or religious or political beliefs – or if you collect or process Personal Data on a large scale (this is not defined in the Act), you are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer. A Data Protection Officer is an “appropriately qualified person,” who independently monitors your compliance with the Act, and reports periodically to the
Information Commissioner

You will also need to have a plan in place, including appropriate security measures (technical and organisational) with respect to collecting and processing of Personal Data, as well as a plan for what to do when and if a breach occurs, not just to assess the damage, but also to report the breach to the Information Commissioner within 72 hours of the breach. This includes but is not limited to a Data Protection Impact Assessment, Privacy by design practices and Data Protection Breach Response Plan.
Data Controllers are required to adhere to certain standards governing the collection and maintenance of Personal Data.

For example:

  • You can only collect or process personal data for one or more specified and lawful purpose, where the Data Subject has consented (and in circumstances of Sensitive Personal Data, the consent should be in writing) and has not withdrawn their consent.
  • The Personal Data you collect or process should be adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary for the purposes for which they are processed – in other words, don’t collect more information than you need.
  • You should ensure that the Personal Data collected or processed is accurate, and kept up to date, and it should not be kept longer than is necessary.
  • You should ensure that you use appropriate technological and organizational measures (e.g., limit the number of people who have access to the data, and make sure they are trained on how to protect data – have you ever accidentally bcc’d ) to protect against unauthorized or unlawful processing or a security breach.
  • You must ensure that you don’t transfer Personal Data to a territory/state/country outside of Jamaica UNLESS that country/territory/state has adequate protection for the rights and freedoms of Data Subjects (this is particularly important when you store information in the cloud – make sure you know the physical location of the servers on which your data is stored!).
  • And last, but definitely not least, you must make sure that the collecting and processing of Personal Data is done in accordance with the rights of Data Subjects (and collecting or processing Personal Data for the purposes of direct marketing without the consent of the Data Subject is NOT considered to comply – it is a breach of the Act).


For most – if not all – businesses in Jamaica, your preparedness for December 1, 2023 will require an operational and administrative shift, if your business has not had Data Protection as a priority before now. A start however, would be to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How would my business be classified under the Act?
  2. What information do we collect?
  3. What information do we NEED to collect?
  4. Where do we store the information, and who has access to it? Is it secure enough?
  5. Have we gotten explicit consent from persons to collect or process their data?
  6. Are we required by the Act to appoint a Data Protection Officer?

For more information, or to schedule a free 15 minute consultation about how the Data Protection Act might apply to you, please contact us at or (876) 855-6676 and mention code ROCKDPA.



The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office has just released a Draft of its new Fee Schedule which should come into effect on or before December 1, 2022.

Spoiler alert: the price increases are substantial, but the new fees are still within International norms.

For example, the JIPO fee to file a new trade mark application has increased from J$7,800 for the first class to J$13,700 and the publication fee (due on acceptance of the application, usually about six months after filing) has increased from J$10,000 to J$13,700. The fee for each additional class would move from J$2,200 to J$4,200 – almost a 90% increase.

The JIPO fees for a hypothetical three class application, assuming no amendments required, will move from J$22,200 to J$35,800 – an overall increase of more than 60%.

The new Trade Mark Rules will also provide a trade mark owner the ability to Request Expedited Examination – for a hefty fee! A Request for Expedited Examination will cost J$30,000 for the first class and J$15,000 for each additional class; a Request for Expedited Processing will cost J$20,000 – and both of these are in addition to the regular fees. So if you wanted to expedite that same three class application, you’d be looking at total fees of J$115,800. Typically, a trade mark application takes 10-12 months to register, assuming no amendments or refusals from JIPO; it is unclear how much faster an “expedited” application will move through the system.

These fee increases are part of the new Trade Mark Rules necessitated in part by Jamaica’s accession to the Madrid Protocol. But it should be noted that while the increases appear to be steep, the new fees are still well within International norms, and trade mark fees in other countries can be significantly higher – in the US, for example, that same hypothetical 3 class application could cost between US$825 and US$1,050 in USPTO fees – and there is no option to expedite, so the application will take between 10-12 months regardless.

So, if you are considering filing a new Jamaican trade mark application on a budget, you might want to file sooner rather than later, to take advantage of the lower fees before the increases take effect.  

– Sarah Hsia

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of Rockstone Legal and do not constitute legal advice.



Returning residents, young urban professionals, and REITs have created a seemingly insatiable demand for housing options across Jamaica. There has been a steady and gradual growth in areas like Kingston and other metropolitan areas in Jamaica namely, Portmore, Montego Bay, Spanish Town, and even Drax Hall / Priory in St. Ann. Currently, about 56.65 percent of Jamaica’s population lives in urban areas. The completion of highways to Mandeville and St. Thomas means that these areas are ripe for continued development as well.

This fiercely competitive climate for real estate has meant that more and more purchasers are buying units before construction is complete – and sometimes even before ground has been broken on a project.  But entering into an agreement for sale for a pre-construction property comes with special considerations: construction delays, cost overruns, escalation clauses, etc., and buyers typically have little to no leverage to negotiate terms with developers.

Why consider Pre-Construction Strata properties

Sometimes, it’s the availability; other times, it’s the lower price. In most cases, the choicest units will sell off quickly, so the earliest purchasers will have their pick of the units. It is also usually significantly cheaper to purchase pre-construction units. This is because developers offer discounts to meet sales quotas set by their lenders/investors, which may require a percentage of units to be sold before issuing a construction loan. Some buyers are motivated to act swiftly to secure the “first mover’s advantage”.

The reality of the situation

Many purchasers of pre-construction properties feel pressure to sign an (AFS) agreement for sale quickly, to lock in their choice of unit. But there are some special considerations for pre-construction properties that purchasers should take into account before inking a deal, including:

Delays. Construction inevitably takes longer than anticipated – and even reputable, experienced developers contend with materials shortages and logistical issues that can push projects over deadline. Delays can impact a purchaser in at least three ways: 1. If you are planning to live in the unit you are purchasing, do not make concrete plans to move until you have keys in hand – or, at a minimum, until the Certificate of Practical Completion has been received (indicating that a unit is nearly complete). 2. If you are getting a mortgage, you and your attorney need to keep track of the date on which the Letter of Undertaking expires, so that you can seek an extension if necessary. 3. Significant construction delays can result in increases in the cost of building materials and labor, triggering the escalation clause in your AFS, and meaning that the cost of your unit could increase 3-5% or more, depending on your specific circumstances. You will need to be able to find this cash in order to close.

Escalation. Almost all pre-construction / construction agreements for sale include an escalation clause, which allows the developer to adjust the purchase price upwards at completion to account for inflation, increased costs in materials or labor, etc. Sometimes the escalation clause can include a provision that requires a purchaser to match a later, higher bid received by the developer for the unit. As noted above, you will want to be  sure you have enough cash on hand to cover any escalation costs.

Parking. This is a consideration common to ALL strata properties that are often overlooked by purchasers: how many parking spaces is your unit entitled to? Are they deeded (they belong to you) or assigned (they are marked for your use, but form part of the common property of the strata)? If a 2-3 bedroom unit has only one assigned parking space, it means there will be fierce competition for visitor’s spots and residents may park outside of marked spaces.

Utilities. Another consideration common to ALL strata properties: does the development have water storage and a backup generator, or do you need to install your own? If you are responsible for installing your own backup systems, make sure you account for the cost of doing so in your budget, as water and power outages are common across Jamaica, and rapid rate of development in certain areas of Kingston in particular has outpaced the ability of the utility companies to provide reliable service. Similarly, if you are purchasing in a high-rise (3 stories) does the development have provisions for a water pump to carry water to the higher floors? NWC is only obligated to supply enough pressure to reach the second floor – which may leave some residents high and dry.

Approvals and Permissions. Has the developer gotten planning permission, and are they building in compliance with that permission? If not, they could be subject to lawsuits or stop work orders imposed by local planning authorities that could delay construction indefinitely.

In addition, pre-construction purchasers should also take into consideration all of the regular issues that can arise in stratas: what do the by-laws say? Are pets allowed? Are short-term rentals (e.g, AirBNB) allowed? What is the recourse against owners who fall into arrears with their monthly maintenance fees? Are there any breaches of restrictive covenants that need to be addressed? Have you taken into account the various additional costs and fees that it will be necessary to pay in order to close?


If you are flexible with timing, and budget for contingencies, pre-construction purchases can be attractive investments. But purchasers should do their due diligence and be prepared for the special contingencies involved. Seek the advice of experienced legal counsel, who will take the time to go through the AFS with you, and explain the various provisions, so that you don’t get caught flat-footed.

-Nathanael Amore and Sarah Hsia

Rockstone Legal

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of Rockstone Legal and do not constitute legal advice.



Ownership of master sound recordings has been a hotly contested issue in Jamaica throughout the history of Jamaican music. The Copyright Act of Jamaica seemingly addresses the issue head on: section 22(1) states that the author of a work is the owner of the copyright in that work unless there is an agreement to the contrary, and defines the author of a sound recording as “the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the making of the recording or film are undertaken.”

Local industry custom and practice has adopted a default rule that the producer owns the masters, but until now there has been little guidance from the courts as to what the language of the Copyright Act means in practice: what does it mean to “undertake the arrangements necessary” to make the sound recording? The lack of clarity on this issue, and changes in technology and production of music have led to continued disputes between producers and artistes.

The recent judgement given in the case, Cabel Stephenson v Doreen Hibbert et al [2022], is a rare example of a local decision that sheds a bit more light on this area. Although the overall claim involved a number of other legal issues, the Court looked in detail at the question of copyright ownership of master sound recordings. In the end, the Court found that not only did Mr. Stephenson own the physical hard drive, but as the project’s executive producer, he was also seen as the first owner of the drive’s content. However, Justice Stephane Jackson-Haisley did not designate Mr. Stephenson as the only owner of the masters but left room for the possibility that he was a co-owner of the masters, along with Droop Lion and Toots.

So, why did the court decide in Mr. Stephenson’s favour? Firstly and most importantly, the judge relied on the wording of Jamaica’s Copyright Act. The Act explains that the executive producer should be considered the first owner of a work and its content. To decide who is the justified executive producer, the judge relied on defining the true ‘visionary’ of the project. That individual is ‘described as the person with the vision, the individual who conceptualised the project and therefore the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the making of the album were undertaken.’ Since Mr. Stephenson was found to be the true executive producer by the court, it therefore means that he is also the owner of the album content on the hard drive at issue.

Along with the Act, Justice Jackson-Haisley also looked at previous cases from the United Kingdom, with similar facts. They lay out that all contributors have some claim to ownership of a project, which they worked on. However, the court finds it important to highlight that by collaborating on this project, they understood that ‘they mutually understood their separate roles and responsibilities,’ and should then understand what does and does not belong to them. And because of this, the Hibbert estate is not able to claim that all of the works and content on the drive belonged exclusively to Toots. Further to that, the court emphasised that because Mr. Hibbert made such an effort to be part of this project before his death, he must have impliedly given his permission for his previously recorded sounds to be used. The court found that because Toots gave that permission, his estate can’t now take that permission back to claim it as their property.

So what does this mean for you?
There are a number of different takeaways from the outcome of this case, depending on your role in a project. Producers, artistes, managers, engineers, etc will all have different lessons from the judgement, but it still serves as an overall ‘wake-up call’ for all. No matter the role played in creating a project, everyone should ensure their portion of the content ownership is established early on.

For producers, for example, it is important to keep detailed records and receipts to rely on, if needed. Keep receipts of payment for studio time, musicians, vocalists, engineers, equipment, etc. to use as evidence if needed. If possible, communicate with project participants by email and save your correspondence. Don’t be caught unprepared if and when your role and contribution to a project is questioned.

Along with producers, there are also multiple lessons that can be learned by artists. For starters, if you are the visionary behind a project then you have to make an effort to protect your art by establishing some ownership. Make it clear from the outset of working with a producer that you expect to own the master at the end of the day. Have the difficult conversations and save your receipts!

At the end of the day, music is a business. Work with your team to communicate clearly, get receipts and keep receipts to head off disputes down the road.

– Leah Goldson and Sarah Hsia

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of Rockstone Legal and do not constitute legal advice.

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