Minister presents revamped lawyers law

| 14/09/2016 | 59 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Business): After almost fifteen years and half a dozen attempts to pass the legislation, Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton has come up with a legal practitioners bill that has the support of the legal profession in Cayman and provides for the development and protection of local attorneys. Calling it an “immense improvement”, Panton said this latest draft bill, which will be debated in the LA in October, meets international compliance and represents a “defining moment” for Cayman after years of controversial dispute.

“This bill has taken the better part of 15 years to accomplish,” Panton said after the bill was published in the government Gazette this week for its final 21-day review ahead of the next parliamentary meeting on 4 October.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said the bill had been an issue since he was president of the Caymanian Bar Association in 1999. “At least four government administrations have tackled this legislation,” he said. “I know that the failure to pass this legislation has been damaging to us, not only as a jurisdiction but also to the interests of Caymanian lawyers.”

Panton congratulated both the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society for their efforts in helping get the legislation “closer to passage than ever before”.

Panton explained that the regulation of lawyers who practice Cayman law is vital to the country’s reputation and economic success but the law currently governing the profession was enacted originally in 1969 when there were less than 30 practicing lawyers here.

“Things have changed significantly since then,” the minister stated. “Today, the practice of Cayman law has become increasingly more sophisticated, complex and international, and as such, the current law is woefully inadequate. The LPB represents an immense improvement and is appropriate for today’s reality,” added Panton, who worked as an offshore lawyer before he become involved in politics.

The bill provides for the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association (CILPA), which will be the self-regulatory body comprising eight lawyers who are ordinarily resident in Cayman and who practice Cayman Islands law in Cayman. At least five of these must be Caymanian and of those five, at least three must have qualified locally.

Once the bill has been passed in the LA, CILPA will have the responsibility to promote the qualification, training and development of Caymanians as attorneys and ensure that non-Caymanians with foreign qualifications are suitably qualified to practice Cayman Islands law, Panton explained.

It will have the authority to compel law firms to comply with strict business staffing plans, including provisions to ensure that qualified Caymanian attorneys are properly considered for promotion inside and outside of Cayman. The bill also provides a mechanism to deal with professional misconduct.

The 126-page bill also addresses the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, which are part of the global regulatory standard for the financial services industry. In 2017, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) will assess Cayman.

“Passing the bill into law during the October sitting will allow the legal profession to demonstrate adherence to the FATF recommendations, in order for the jurisdiction to achieve a satisfactory assessment against the international standards,” Panton said.

Welcoming the bill, Cayman Islands Law Society President Alasdair Robertson said CILS it had worked with the Caymanian Bar Association to create a modern law.

“There are now over 600 practising lawyers in the Cayman Islands, including over 240 Caymanians, and due to this positive growth and expansion of our legal sector it is imperative the law be modernised in order to address the global nature of the legal profession in which we work, as well as maintaining high ethical standards of our industry,” Robertson said.

“We will work with our members to review the final draft but believe that, from earlier discussions, this LPB will fairly and comprehensively serve all lawyers, current and future,” he added. “We will continue to support the Cayman Islands Government throughout this process and are optimistic about the future of Cayman law, both here in the Cayman Islands and internationally.”

See the legislation on the CNS Library

Legal Practitioners Bill – Frequently Asked Questions

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Category: Finance, Financial Services, Law

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you actually read this law you will realize it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever due to various drafting errors the only thing it prohibits is persons who are on the Cayman court roll from practicing overseas- it does not actually stop anyone else. Who drafting this?? Did anybody actually read it, is this the type of quality work the big firms produce??

    • Anonymous says:

      “Who drafting this” indeed. Who drafting this…indeed. Jacka$$

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh it must have been you if that upsets you so. Clearly there is a difference between a CNS comment and a Bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you expect to regulate people overseas who are not on your rolls? They are subject to the rules where they are and you could complain to their authorities, but thats all you can do (I guess you could use harsh language in a letter, but you’ll have a hard time arresting them.)

      • Anonymous says:

        If you make it illegal in your jurisdiction to practice Cayman law without being on the court roll in Cayman then the overseas insurance companies won’t cover negligence claims against attorneys in breach of those laws. That is what all other jurisdictions do. This bill only prevents people who are on the Cayman court roll from practicing overseas UNLESS they work for a “qualified firm” which are the big foreign owned firms here. So all this bill does in monopolize this for the big firms and does nothing useful for anybody in Cayman.

        What would happen if you let’s criminals draft the penal code? Same thing if you allow the big firms to draft laws to regulate themselves!

        • Anonymous says:

          It already is illegal to practice Cayman Islands Law without being on the court roll.

  2. ah boy says:

    Thanks Wayne….thanks a lot…..NOT!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This Bill was written BY THE BIG FIRM FOR THE BIG FIRMS. They’ve made it look as if it’s for the “good of the profession” but what it really does is allow these firms to outsource the profession to jurisdictions where they can pay foreigners to practice Cayman law while paying them half or quarter of the salary AND IT MONOPOLIZES the practice of Cayman Islands law outside of Cayman to the firms who sponsored this bill- they coined themselves “Qualified Firms”. For example, if a Caymanian attorney wanted to move to London and practice Cayman law they couldn’t do so unless they work for one of those “qualified firms”!!!

    What do you think happens when you let the large firms draft a bill to regulate themselves? They’ll take everything they can get! That’s what this is. Don’t be fooled by the “niceties” they are promoting this bill under- they are LAWYERS- THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL!

    • Anonymous says:

      The true misconception all along has been that lawyers practicing Cayman law in places such as Hong Kong or London are taking away work that would otherwise have been done in Cayman by Caymanian lawyers. As a Caymanian lawyer who worked overseas can I say that if those lawyers were not able to provide Cayman law expertise in those places, the work would just go to another offshore jurisdiction such as Bermuda. Unlike here there is competition between different offshore jurisdictions for that work. So no incorporation fees for the Cayman Registrar of Companies and perhaps more importantly for Cayman overall, no opportunity for young Caymanian lawyers to practise in a larger and more challenging environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        What are you talking about? WHY would it not be able to be done by a Caymanian? Why exactly? The opposite is true- if these firms were being forced to place Caymanians overseas they would get positions in these foreign offices. But then when the goal is to employ people in Mauritius for half the price I can see why no Caymanian would want that job. The overseas practice needs to be regulated but not monopolized for the big firms- why should a qualified Caymanian not be allowed to be a sole practitioner in London? Not every lawyer wants to be a slave for the big firms!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          What are YOU talking about? Cayman can’t regulate lawyers who live overseas if they’re not on your rolls. The most you can do is regulate their Cayman affilates. That’s what this bill does. A Caymanian wanting to practice solo in London just needs to set themselves up couple of single member law companies. You seem to forget that if you want to practice Cayman law in London, you still need to be qualified in London as well as Cayman.

          • Anonymous says:


          • Anonymous says:

            Cayman does regulate lawyers who practice overseas. Practice by persons who do not have practising certificates is unlawful.

            There is nothing peculiar about that. The Law Society of England and Wales prohibits persons from acting as solicitors in the Cayman Islands (for example) even though they are solicitors.

            • Anonymous says:

              Must be the same genius who drafted this incompetent bill who says “you can’t regulate overseas lawyers”. They are regulated now!! It’s illegal unless you are on the court roll! Forget this stupid bill which just sees the big firms monopolizing and regularizing their current breach of law! How about our court issues a practice direction to all attorneys outlining that all attorneys purporting to practice Cayman law who are not on the court roll here are in breach of our laws. Send a copy to all the large insurance companies and most of them will no longer cover he overseas lawyers for professional negligence and this black market of illegal overseas practice wil shrink dramatically!

      • Anonymous says:

        Very very few Caymanians have been given opportunity to practice overseas. One big firm has NEVER employed a Caymanian in any of its many offices overseas, despite many applicants. You have drunk too much coolaid. Some firms actively send Cayman work overseas. For many, the marketing role they pretend to have, is a scam.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you want to practice law overseas, get off your ass and go to law school and article overseas.

          • Anonymous says:

            It was my desire to practice Cayman Law overseas. I already have a practising certificate. Why should I article again, particularly in a legal system I do not wish (or need) to practice?

            You sound like you are not from here. Did you have to do articles in Cayman to be allowed to come here?

  4. Soldier Crab says:

    What this proposed law completely fails to address is the question of fees. The cost of access to the legal system is way beyond the means of the ordinary man (or woman) in the street. There should be two fee scales, one for local cases (i.e torts, criminal defence etc.), and another (if the lawyers feel the need) grossly inflated for matter involving shell/overseas/exempt companies and the like.
    The law would then have to provide that law-firms have to accept such ‘local’ cases as come their way, handling them with equal diligence.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It can’t be bad to have our legal practitioners get in line with FATF regulations like other sectors. There has been comparatively little if any KYC burden put on the sector that often designs and orchestrates the most damaging schemes. They’ve been allowed to profit in their pursuit of clever new ways to circumvent the rules that to date have only to applied to other sectors. I have firsthand knowledge of major law firms on boarding client business that would have repelled any normal financial services compliance dept and probably triggered a catalogue of SARs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I thought Law firms were exempt from local laws so what is the point of writing more? That figure of 240 Caymanian lawyers is amazing. Now, how many of those were Caymanian when they became lawyers, Mr. Robertson?

    • I would like to know how many of the “Caymanian” lawyers have been encouraged, promoted and put in line to become equity partners in the near future. Surely among 240 “Caymanian ” lawyers there must be a few born Caymanians in the position to achieve this? Wayne have any scraps been left for us on purpose??

      • Anonymous says:

        No, born Caymanian lawyers are automatically disqualified from being a partner in any of the major firms. Do not believe me? Check the stats (and do not confuse being called a partner with being a partner).

        • Anonymous says:


        • Anonymous says:

          The Legal Practitioners Bill now defines a “partner” and so hopefully all the so called “associate” partners will now become equity partners.

          • Anonymous says:

            Some ‘Caymanians’ are going to be lucky, even if not deserving

            • Anonymous says:

              If they are not good enough to be partners why are some firms telling regulators and staff and clients they are partners? As far as I am concerned the conduct of some law firms is criminal. The only lucky people in this are the illustrious so called officers of the court who have so far escaped imprisonment for their frauds.

    • Anonymous says:

      At the recent CBA Gala it was announced that since 2008, 113 completed Articles of Clerkship and that around 25% of all Caymanian lawyers today have 0-3 years PQE. No work permits are available to those with less than 3 years PQE.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow can’t believe this bill has been sent to the LA. History making again.

    Whatever you want to say this government has tackled ever major issue facing our islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      If this bill passes then lots of things will become history including Caymanians practicing law because all of it will be outsourced and monopolized to the big firms! But don’t worry the expats will go too because all that the firms will have left here are shell offices with a token Caymanian and the actual work will be outsourced to Mauritius and China and India and the like. Then your rental market will be history too and your stores will feel the pinch and the entire economy will reel. I guess that counts as “history” plus the bad stuff makes for better historical reading.

    • What!!!!! says:

      Umm – have you actually read this bill? Its a travesty and will make Caymanian Lawyers completely obsolete.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank goodness there are people with sense who have actually read the bill and can see how dangerous it is to our entire economy! Every single industry here is under attack – legal, medical! We need to put our foot down NOW before it is too late for us and our children to have any future here. Caymanians do not have many occupations to choose from if they want to live here. We need to stop letting these firms and the politicians they buy take away the few jobs our children can have! This is insanity

      • Anonymous says:

        Not true. I read the Bill and was surprised to note

        1) that it does have anti-outsourcing provisions. The Bill actually prohibits the employment of foreign qualified lawyers in the capacity of paralegals in say the New Delhi office. Only foreign lawyers admitted in the Islands can practice as CI attorneys…and such persons cannot practice law simply as paralegals; and

        2) the Bill requires that a majority of the practicing certificates be held by those resident in the Islands. So you cannot have more lawyers in the foreign offices and simply have a token office in the Islands.

        • Anonymous says:

          Read the bill again and you will notice that the bill only prohibits “attorneys” from practicing overseas without being part of a qualified firm. Attorney is defined as somebody on the Cayman court roll. So anybody who is not on the Cayman court roll can do whatever the hell they please. That doesn’t regulate anything and you can have whatever quotas you want for the qualified firms because unless their lawyers are on the court roll here they can practice overseas anyways. It’s either a huge drafting error or we are all being taken for fools!

          • Anonymous says:

            Read section 24(1) which states “a person shall not practice Cayman Islands law..” no reference there to “attorneys”

            • Anonymous says:

              Section 67 provides that an “attorney-at-law” may not practice outside of the Cayman Islands other than with a “qualified law firm”.

              So any person practicing Cayman law outside of the jurisdiction can do so as long as they are not an “attorney at law”. If they are an “attorney-at-law (i.e. a Caymanian on the court roll) then they cannot practice overseas unless they work for a Qualified firm.

              How does that make any sense?


  8. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians screwed again while expats come and rape and pillage then go back home multi-millionaires. Many which were nobodies and nothing special until they came here. Shameful.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a joke.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How will this benefit Caymanian lawyers?

  11. Annie says:

    I think the real question is why are not Caymanian attorneys competitive in the work place?

    • Anonymous says:

      There are many competitive Caymanians in the workforce and I am sure you are aware.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are a great many competitive Caymanian lawyers in the workplace. Some of those who you claim not to be competitive however do find themselves at a disadvantage given that notwithstanding the legal and professional obligations placed on you to provide them with good quality training and experience you (and others) only pretended to do so for just long enough for you to get your permanent residencee granted. You destroyed their potential and their career and livelihood in the process.

      You today call yourself Caymanian. Many Caymanians, and even some expatriates see through you and call you Driftwood. You are too arrogant to understand why.

      • Anonymous says:

        I went to a Caymanian firm for an estate matter. All I can say is that they dressed well.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What’s the point? This government has no problem ignoring existing immigration laws by automatically issuing managerial permits as “it creates lower level jobs” (aka temporary ditch digging jobs). They will just ignore this law too if it results in work permit revenues.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish I could “like” your comments 1000 times. To add to them, what is the point of having “Caymanians” make up the regulatory body when the 3 “locally qualified” (meaning the rest will be ex pats with Caymanian Status) will have no ability to make a difference. It’s called window dressing I believe.

      • Anonymous says:

        A thoroughly racist comment. Only the mediocre consider their place of birth a qualification.

        • Anonymous says:

          Really? Well all UK solicitors and barristers must be very mediocre. They generally do not allow non European foreigners to practice in the UK, and have successfully lobbied for it to be almost impossible for outsiders to gain entry.

          • Anonymous says:

            Google QLTS, moron.

            • Anonymous says:

              I am very familiar with it, including the fact that a Cayman qualified lawyer, no matter how many years experienced, having taken the QLTT has to then undertake a full 18 month period of articles before being able to practice Law.

              If not British, you need UK Immigration approvals to undertake articles in the UK. These approvals are generally not available to non EU citizens.

              Remember all the young Australian and Kiwi lawyers in London? They are not there now. Ever stop to wonder why, moron.

              • Anonymous says:

                Well said!

              • Anonymous says:

                Currently Cayman qualified lawyers are not allowed to appear for the QLTS exam – because Cayman is not an eligible jurisdiction. I was told by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority that Cayman is not an eligible jurisdiction because there was no mandatory Code of Conduct for lawyers.

                The Bill now introduces a mandatory Code of Conduct.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are many foreign qualified born Caymanians who could serve on the Council and one would assume that if they want locally qualified Caymanians as well it means what it says – those who obtained their qualifications through the local law school and completed articles locally. Nothing to do with how they came to be Caymanians. This small minded divisiveness needs to stop.

        • Anonymous says:

          Qualified locally is defined in the bill as completing articles and being admitted by proving you have completed articles. There is no requirement to have attended the local law school instead of an overseas one.

          • Anonymous says:

            A definition which illegally discriminates between Caymanians on the basis of their national origin in breach of human rights obligations.

            • Anonymous says:

              You are being an idiot. Unless you qualify locally you are in fact not trained in local laws and practice. It is nothing to do with anyone’s nationality of origin.

              • Anonymous says:

                You are the idiot. Once someone has status they will have worked long enough in Cayman to know plenty about local laws and practice.

                • Anonymous says:

                  So all the illegal stuff being done by lawyers in my country is being done in overt breach of the law rather than simply out of ignorance of it? That makes me feel so much better.

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