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Lawyers’ law delayed as small firms ask for time

| 18/10/2016 | 38 Comments

(CNS Business): The financial services minister has postponed the debate on the still controversial Legal Practitioners bill until the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly because of a request by some small and sole practitioners who want more time to submit suggestions that specifically impact their sector of the profession. Wayne Panton, who was hoping to steer the legislation through during this current meeting after fifteen years of wrangling, said it was a risk to delay passage when the jurisdiction is to face the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review next year, but he said that if a short delay improves matters, he believed it was a risk worth taking to balance the interests of sole practitioners and the need for the law now.

But Panton warned that continued delays, deferments, arguments and backlash against this law was detrimental to the country and Caymanian attorneys. He said the bill was not being withdrawn but was being deferred to give more stakeholders a final chance to contribute, and the notion there was any “victory or a success” in preventing the modernisation of this law was not in the interests of Caymanians or the jurisdiction.

“We have proposed a bill which has the support of the Law Society and most the bulk of the Caymanian Bar Association, which addresses the current needs for the modern profession,” he told CNS Business in the wake of its withdrawal from the LA’s order of business Tuesday.

“The fact that we have nothing at this point that allows us to do anything at all to stop overseas lawyers practicing Cayman law or even regulate them creates significant problems,” he said, noting that this was not in the interests of local attorneys. “Anyone claiming victory for delaying the bill is claiming a victory against, not for, Caymanians and the country.”

Panton’s comments came following the circulation of a press release by the group on independent opposition members who were claiming that victory.

The five members said it was their “rigorous” campaign via public meetings and in the media calling on the community to reject the law that led to the delay. Arden McLean, Alva Suckoo, Winston Connolly, Ezzard Miller and Anthony Eden accused Panton of an abrupt legislative about-face.

McLean said he was delighted and elated government had “put a stop to this disastrous bill”, which he said only served to further “disenfranchise Caymanian lawyers and keep them out of the upper echelons” of the profession. “This bill would do very little to promote Caymanian ownership and participation in our financial services industry,” he said. “I promised Minister Panton that if he attempted to bring this bill to the Legislature we would go district to district and let the people know just how bad this will be for the Cayman Islands.”

But Panton denied any U-turn or that anyone had put a stop to the bill.

The minister, who is a former offshore lawyer, said it was a delay to allow sole practitioners to make a case on issues surrounding a very specific area of law. However, he stuck by the legislation and said that none of the independent members or the opposition leader who have criticised the legislation had submitted any comment, suggestions, or formal amendments to the proposed bill, despite the endless consultation.

“I still have no idea what any of them what changed in the law,” he said, adding that if there was something specific they wanted to changed, they should approach him directly with their suggestions or proposed amendments. “But they seemed content to claim a victory without offering any alternative.”

Panton said, “Preventing this modernisation of this legislation is wrong for the country and is not in the interest of Caymanians who have suffered as a result of 15 years of delays,” he stressed, making it clear that the delay would be short.

Cayman had to have the law not just passed but actually working before the FATF review, the minister explained, as part of the assessment will be to examine the effectiveness of the regulatory regime this new law among many others will introduce.

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Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What has been claimed as large support of this bill certainly is not reflected on this forum. Seems to me this bill has no support from real Caymanians.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Greed has no limit mr panton!

    • Anonymous says:

      I assume you are not suggesting he is somehow greedy as the facts of what he has done for his fellow Caymanians would overwhelm you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Those complaining are those who want to make top attorney bucks with ordinary attorney talent.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, just Caymanians who have every bit of intellect and talent as you, and have been marginalized, sometimes intentionally, by persons from overseas acting contrary to our laws.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Until they introduce a bill equivalent to the Legal Services Act 2007 in the UK: they are NOT modernising the profession, it will not level the playing field, it will not create more opportunities for Caymanians to get into law and practicing law in Cayman will remain a profession reserved only for the upper echelons of Cayman society.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a bunch of moaning minnies. Seriously, if a Caymanian cannot make it in the current environment they are not good enough to make. How many top lawyers can a country of the thirty thousand odd produce each year?

      • Anonymous says:

        Please name a single Person from the Cayman Islands who has made it to partnership in a large firm in the last decade?

      • Moaning Minnie says:

        You replied to my comment but apparently you failed to read or understand it, the link provided or my point. FYI I am not a Caymanian but I am a lawyer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pathetic moaning by the mediocre who want an even bigger chunk of profits by reason of regulatory impediments to business, on the basis that entitlement is more important than talent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Haha go back to whenever you came from. If you were anything near mediocre you would have made it there

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear driftwood,

      No this is Caymanians making rightful complaints against an unjust system.

      Not the washed out driftwood like you who try to keep the pie to themselves old boys style. Your reign of metiocrity is coming to an end. Don’t like go home. Oh right you couldn’t cut it there…

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually in fairness, many of the expat lawyers more than cut it there, and that’s why they get recruited to Cayman. Those expats who are a cut above do tend to bring good paying clients with them, that’s half the attraction.

        • Anonymous says:

          What fairness? This is certainly a misleading set of statements. First, most of the expat lawyers who come here have experience as junior associates, not as partners. They get hired because they are already trained and have some experience. Second, they hardly ever have the skills to bring in clients. The clients are generally brought in by the senior associates and partners already here in Cayman. What certainly helps is when an onshore firm engages an offshore firm, they are comforted when the lawyer is an alumni or respected rival of their firm.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The same people who are asking for more time wrote a 9 page letter on this same Bill. If you still need more time to read it and form a view, what was that 9 page letter about??

    • Anonymous says:

      3 years of hiding benefit for the big firms went into this bill. Benefits at the expense of caymanians and the economy. Forgive those trying to save this island for asking for a few more week to unravel all the lies and hidden agendas in this bill.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What bothers me is that a firm XXXXX was allowed to set up under the guise of a small Cayman firm and is now expanding and taking away a lot of business from existing firms while the Caymanian who sold out has set up again under his own name. There is absolutely no protection for Caymanian firms.

    • Anonymous says:

      That firm has certainly eaten our lunch. We used to specialise in what they do now. But we don’t have their marketing budget or the annual fees of 100,000+ companies in a nearby jurisdiction to use to hire lots of top staff.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This bill simply sets in place the current status quo. It is a joke. It is paying lip service. Nothing more.

    Law firms should be subject to the same laws and rules that apply to all local businesses. They have slid under the radar for too long. It is high time Cayman steps up for its own.

  9. Wow says:

    This man was elected to look out for Caymanians and instead chooses to go fight for his Lawyer friends. Shame on you Wayne Panton…shame

  10. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t about small firms- this is about saving Cayman and Caymanians from this disaster of a “Bill”!

    • Anonymous says:

      What is the disaster? As a Caymanian attorney who has read the Bill I do not see any disaster. The disaster is something I see that will follow the failure to pass this Bill. I have waited 20 years for this Bill. PPM don’t make me wait another 15 years.

      Minister Panton has now extended comment period until 10 Nov. So please send in your comments on how to fix the disaster you speak of.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not much of a lawyer then are you

      • Anonymous says:

        You waited 20 years for this???

        Really ???

      • Anonymous says:

        So pray tell us. How does the new law benefit YOU. And more importantly, how does it benefit Caymanians generally giving all an opportunity to study and qualify to practice law, regardless of background?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree there was too much haste to push this through. But I’ve said it before and that is, the firms (and 1 primarily) have way too much say in the drafting of this bill and other bills. The 1 firm I refer to in particular whilst they brag on hiring young graduates they also dictate who should be hired and your application doesn’t even make to HR properly without that 1 partner dipping into it. Furthermore, the council to which the bill speaks of will be made up of the exact same people who have sat on and are still sitting on the CBA and CILS council. These 2 councils looked to their own/the Minister who is heavily connected to these firms. Its a revolving door. Old boys club! So even with a new bill the status quo remains! Mark my word!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mr Panton, Caymanian lawyers have not suffered as a result of 15 years of delays. They have suffered because successive governments have supported or turned a blind eye to various law firms operating contrary to legislative requirements. Where and when can accountability be expected?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I do not think any lawyer does not want an updated legal practitioners law but this one was a disaster and did nothing but further the interests of the major law firms at the expense of every Caymanian and the jurisdiction. Time should have been given to everyone in the first place. I hope somebody is able to amend this law so that it is fair and I hope that the deep pockets of the firms aren’t the deciding factor of what amendments are accepted. Time will tell.

  14. Hahaa says:

    What a flop. Wayne you know this benefits the big firms and no one else

  15. Anonymous says:

    Panton’s bullying tactics and condescending attitude are the reasons he failed. He will end up costing the PPM votes in 2017. Additionally, his business partners will view him as weak and incompetent unless the LPB is passed as was promised.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, as someone on the inside, Panton has performed admirably. The Law Society has however seemingly not been as open as it might have been, and as usual, acted without consulting anyone (including its own members).

      • Lord says:

        Yea and they managed to fool Wayne

      • Anonymous says:

        The CILS, the CBA, Minister Panton are one and the same here. All he has done is defend the big firms bill at the cost of his own people

      • Anonymous says:

        How does the Law Society get away with even saying they represent the profession? It represents 10 or so Managing Partners and NEVER asks lawyers what they think on any issue.

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