Minister to make case for lawyers’ law

| 12/10/2016 | 18 Comments
CNS Business

Wayne Panton, Minister of Financial Services, Commerce and Environment

(CNS Business): After almost 15 years of wrangling over a law to regulate the legal profession, the current financial services minister, a former offshore lawyer himself, is hoping he can finally steer through new legislation. But despite getting backing from the Cayman Islands Law Society and the Caymanian Bar Association, Wayne Panton has not won over the opposition benches in parliament. With detractors on the law still saying it does not go far enough to protect local lawyers, Panton is hosting a public meeting Thursday night, along with members of the legal profession, to argue that the bill protects Caymanian lawyers and addresses international compliance standards.

The bill is scheduled to be debated in the Legislative Assembly during the current meeting and Panton recently said he believes the draft bill is an “immense improvement” on previous attempts.

“This bill has taken the better part of 15 years to accomplish,” he said, as he offered his thanks to both the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society for “their stellar efforts in helping this important legislation to come closer to passage than ever before”.

The two bodies have not always seen eye to eye over past drafts but the lawyers are now getting behind the bill. In recent press releases, both CILS and CBA offered their public support.

Nineteen Cayman firms representing over 80% of the members of the CILA have backed the bill and CILS President Alasdair Robertson pointed out that the outdated provisions of the 1969 law, which was passed when there were only 30 practising lawyers compared to more than 600 now, had to be modernised to reflect the profession’s evolution.

“It is important that we put in place the foundations to allow the profession to continue to grow for future generations,” Robertson said. “With over 240 Caymanian attorneys on the roll and over 50 trainee lawyers trained by the profession over the last three years, we support the requirements of the LPB to put in place best practice guidelines. These guidelines will enshrine practices developed by the leading law firms to recruit, promote and advance Caymanian lawyers within the profession.”

The CBA said the law addresses the need for the profession to succeed in a highly competitive global market as well as the need to promote Caymanian advancement within the profession.

“In the past there has been much ill-informed debate, sometimes including those who neither read nor understood what was proposed. We hope for an informed debate on the LP Bill,” the CBA stated. In a survey of CBA members, over 77% of those voting supported the new draft.

“There must be a balance between protectionism and the need to compete globally,” said Abraham Thoppil, the CBA President. “Individuals can honestly differ as to where the balance lies but the status quo is much worse, since the lack of a modern law has an adverse effect on Caymanians within the profession.”

Important to the profession locally, the bill also deals with the regulation of lawyers who practice Cayman law overseas. “Today, the practice of Cayman law has become increasingly more sophisticated, complex and international and as such, the current law is woefully inadequate,” Panton noted.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, also is a lawyer, backed his minister and said that 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.”

Besides addressing long standing issues for Caymanians, the draft law addresses the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations ahead of the review next year, when the regulators will expect Cayman to have the law in place in order to achieve a satisfactory assessment, Panton added.

The meeting is set for Thursday evening at the Family Life Centre at 6:30pm.

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Category: Finance, Law

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:


    However Mr. Panton that is what happens now. Unfortunately I don’t bare your surname so whilst fully educated and searching for work I don’t even receive a acknowledgment of my application. So no lip service please.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, it appears the Minister’s case for this Bill backfired. I heard nothing but concerns from the audience- all of which were valid and Minister Panton did a poor job of explaining why he has taken the position he has or how this Bill benefits anyone other than the large firms. He also did not appear to understand his own Bill. Concerning. tut tut!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Slavery was always a good deal…

    To a master.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If expats don’t like it you can go home. This is our only home and it is being taken away piece by piece. Please do not support this big firm lie.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Could someone please explain this to me?

    The Legal Practitioners (Incorporated Practice) Regulations confirm that only Cayman admitted lawyers can own a law firm that is incorporated. Section 4(1) provides:

    4. (1) A recognised body shall not have as a director any person who is not
    an attorney.

    (2) Subject to subregulation (3), a recognised body shall, at all times, be
    managed and controlled by attorneys or recognised bodies.

    (3) Subregulation (2) does not apply to the secretary of a recognised body.

    5. (1) A recognised body shall not have as a member any person who is not
    an attorney or a recognised body.

    (2) A member of a recognised body shall not hold any share in a recognised body for another person save as nominee for-

    (a) another member; or

    (b) an attorney who is employed by the recognised body for the purpose of providing professional services on its behalf.

    “attorney” means an attorney-at-law admitted by a Judge to practise as such in
    the Islands; and

    There are seemingly a number of law firms in the Cayman islands that are incorporated and yet operate with shareholders who are not attorneys or recognized bodies or with shareholders who are nominees for other persons and those other persons having ownership and control of supposedly Cayman Law firms.

    How is this possible? Are such firms potentially operating with blatant disregard for Cayman Law?

    Law Society?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where or what is the Family Life Centre? Will this be done before the JMU flare demo at 7:30?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wayne Panton needs to explain to the people his conflict of interest in all of this. Doesn’t he also own the building that one of the big law firm is located at? Wayne has never been and will never be for Caymanians. please remember whatever favour he has done for you is only so you can vote for him next year.

  8. Anonymous says:

    CNS please put the on the front page for a few more hours until tonight’s meeting. Too many clicks to get to CNS business and @9:19 hits the nail on the head. I totally agree with the author and would appear to be a clear conflict of interest on the ministers’ part who seem to be representing the people that voted him in. At present law grads struggle to get into the firms to even mop the floor. Imagine when those big firms that authored this bill have more power?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I look forward to the Minister confirming how certain law firms have been able to ignore our immigration and legal practitioners laws for so long without any consequences. He lives in a dreamworld if he really believe Caymanians have been given a fair chance to compete for the highest positions in some firms.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A triumph for the mediocre.

  11. Anonymous says:

    BS – those Caymanian lawyers he mentioned is are the status holders. Indigenous Caymanians are always left behind in big firms. Just look at the Galas they hold at the Ritz, Where are the Caymanian Partners and deputy CEO’s etc. I’ll tell you where, in this made up fantasy that all these bills are pushing Caymanians to the for front! Laughable!


    • Anonymous says:

      Truth is there are only 30000 Caymanians and you can’t expect more than a handful will be top notch international lawyers at any given time. There are thousands of towns that size in the UK and US that haven’t produced even one. Getting to the top means impressing clients in New York and London, not being “pushed to the front” in Cayman. These jobs are not candy being handed out by some foreign Santa. If you need a reason to put up with foreign lawyers, accountants, etc, just be happy that finance pays a full third of your government budget every year. Make it unpleasant for the foreigners (or, more importantly, hurt their pocketbooks) and watch the industry disappear.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lawyers. as officers of the court, ought to know that there is only one definition of Caymanian. You cannot pass the LP law or any other law which contradicts this.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This Bill is a travesty and an attack on our entire community. Have you ever seen all the big firms so eager to assist in drafting legislation and holding hands on any matter? No. This Bill is an opportunity for the Big firms to steal Cayman’s entire legal industry- it proposes to allow major outsourcing and for the firms to regulate themselves by creating an almighty Council (with powers only second to God himself) which they can put their cronies on (just like the current CILS and CBA) and decide who to give practicing certificates to and which firms to investigate for breaching the law. This Bill is (probably intentionally) full of loopholes to avoid regulation of overseas practitioners and quite honestly reeks of corruption in every way and has the potential to ruin Cayman’s economy. Cayman has very little in terms of natural resources- what we have is our financial industry and we need to protect it for future generations.

    Update the Law by all means but not with this Bill which was drafted by the big firms for the big firms at the expense of Caymanians. We need and should DEMAND an updated law that protects Caymanians and honestly regulates outsourcing. If an overseas presence is necessary to “funnel” legal work to Cayman then you do not need as many people overseas as you have practicing in Cayman. All those people practicing overseas will work for less money, pay no work permits and spend no money in the Islands. Look at the very real problems other countries already have with outsourcing- do you expect your children to find jobs here if we allow people in India and China to take the jobs for a quarter of our salaries? NO. It’s not rocket science. This is a dangerous road and one the big firms and the associations that represent them, as well as Wayne (apparently) would love to send you down on a rocket. Why do you think this Bill was drafted and hidden from everyone? Because they have something to hide and they don’t want you to know the truth.


    As for Wayne, I think he has some explaining to do as to why his position is to assist the big firms rather than to protect his people. I love their campaign “the CILS wants to show you how good this is for Caymanians all around the world”! In reality this Bill allows outsourcing and does NOTHING to require training and advancement of Caymanians in the legal industry. The big firms think they should be exempt from the LCCL which requires Caymanian ownership of all locally operating companies and exempt from the Trade and Business Licensing Law. So basically, poor Caymanians who want to open a gardening business or a car wash have to jump through all these hoops and prove Caymanian ownership of the companies but law firms (unlike accountants who fall under the Caymanian ownership requirements) do not require any Caymanian participation! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!?? Shouldn’t we be protecting the lucrative businesses for Caymanians???

    There is so much at stake here. Our politicians are giving our country away piece by piece- we do not have much left. Please speak up and voice your concerns to your representatives. The lawyers are cowards and are too scared of losing their jobs to speak up for themselves- imagine the very people who are supposed to represent you and fight for you are too scared of the big firms to fight for themselves! If we allow our financial services industries to be outsourced and for the big firms to write the laws themselves that govern them there will be nothing left here. No future for your Caymanian children in law and no lawyers to buy your products and use your services.

    This Bill is setting a precedent- we can decide now is Cayman for Caymanians or are we going to allow corporations to rob us of what is rightfully ours?! THIS IS OUR JURISDICTION, keep it for us!!!

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