80% of Law Society back new bill

| 08/12/2016 | 18 Comments

(CNS): As the row over the latest draft version of the Legal Practitioners Bill continues, the Cayman Islands Law Society have released a statement backing to the proposed law and said that over 80% of its 400 plus members are behind it. The profession has been in agreement for years that a new law is desperately needed, but what that law should look like and how local lawyers will be protected and assisted has been at the heart of the disputes, as well as the sticky problem of attorneys practicing Cayman law overseas.

Following the response from Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton to public criticisms from four sole practitioners who remain opposed to the latest attempt by a government to pass a modern law, CILS President Alasdair Robertson said the profession would be failing the next generation of lawyers if it did not act now to provide a better foundation to allow Cayman Islands law to continue to grow.

“The current law is simply inadequate and we have been working hard, alongside the CBA, to ensure this new draft is fair and balanced and that it protects Cayman’s position as a jurisdiction of choice in key financial markets such as Asia,” said Robertson, who works for Maples and Calder, one of the largest offshore firms on island. “The 2016 bill, which is supported by over 80% of our membership, is in our view the best attempt so far to ensure fairness and modernisation of our legal profession.”

The Cayman Islands Law  Society and the Caymanian Bar Association have campaigned for a significant number of years for the modernisation of the law and the majority of the members of these professional bodies support the latest draft law.

Robertson said he believed it incorporates many of the concepts and proposals found in previous LPB drafts as prepared by a parliamentary drafts-person well versed in drafting Cayman Islands legislation and based on a position paper approved by Cabinet.

The society pointed to the modern reality of the legal profession and touted the importance to the local economy of the overseas practices. Robertson said that in 2012, the society commissioned the Grant Thornton Report, which demonstrated that over US$24m of revenue to the Cayman Islands Government was generated by the foreign offices of Cayman’s larger law firms.

“This large revenue demonstrates that the legal profession is a key driver for Cayman’s financial services industry, bringing employment not only to the law firms in the islands, but also many other related industries, including company management, independent directorships, IT, marketing and compliance,”  Robertson said, as he refuted the claims by the objecting lawyers and others that the profession is pushing out Cayman lawyers.

“The larger, multi-jurisdictional law firms are the key reason as to why over 200 Caymanians are now working in the legal profession. These firms offer articles and employment to Caymanians once qualified, creating opportunities for Caymanians to be part of the legal profession without having to go overseas,” he said. “The largest 14 multi-national law firms in the Cayman Islands employ 134 of the 200 Caymanian attorneys, not to mention that over 45 of these lawyers have had the opportunity to be seconded to the overseas offices. The operation of overseas offices increase job opportunities in the legal profession here, rather than taking away work from Cayman,” the offshore legal expert added.

He warned that a law which was too protectionist would reduce the opportunities and scholarships for Caymanians in and outside the profession. Robertson said the society “strongly disagrees” with the points being raised by those opposed to the proposed law and that CILS does agree that the current LPB is in urgent need of updating.


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Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Funny how that 80% is just puppets and yes men

  2. Anonymous says:

    What I don’t get is this – if Caymanian lawyers are truly being held back then why don’t they leave the firms that they are currently work for and form their own Caymanian “super firm”?

    The firm in question could have a policy of only hiring fellow Caymanians (in every position throughout the firm). There wouldn’t be any work permit restrictions and presumably the CIG would be justified in putting all its business with the firm in question (thus ensuring that the firm in question had a reliable source of income from day one). And every member of the firm could work their way up the ladder based on merit alone without the fear of hitting any “glass ceiling” along the way.

    If any Caymanian lawyer had a restraint of trade clause in their current contract then I wouldn’t have thought that they would be enforceable in which case they could take their existing clients with them to their new firm (thus ensuring another revenue stream for their firm).

    Such a firm would surely blow the other (expat) law firms completely out of the water and would ensure that future Caymanians who aspired to be lawyers had a definite future in the industry?

  3. Anonymous says:

    How does he possibly know that? The CILS certainly hasn’t asked me for my views (as opposed to the CBA, who sent out a survey a few months ago)

    • Anonymous says:

      And even the CBA survey was only sent to some of the lawyers because I never got a link even though I requested one and my fees were paid

      • Anonymous says:

        The CBA had explained that once the survey (by a third party site) had started that it was beyond CBAs control to change email IDs etc. I must say that although I might not agree with the CBA council on everything they do…..the current CBA council is the most democratic…and persons of repute who do what they can as volunteers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    May I suggest that those commenting above actually read the draft Law. If they do they will find that it leans over backwards to give Caymanians every chance to qualify and to rise to the top of the profession

  5. Anonymous says:

    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

    Frédéric Bastiat

  6. Anonymous says:

    What else was he going to say: “Yes, we have been breaking the law and now we are trying to regularise it and pull the wool over Caymans eyes with the fantastic help of the PPM and Wayne Panton”?

    That would be accurate but of course it would be what he would say.

    • Anonymous says:

      “breaking what law”? No Government official (legal department etc) has ever raised an issued with the practice of law overseas. Our MLAs and Ministers (representing all parties) and CIMA have visited/continue to visit and market jointly with foreign offices of law firms.

      • Anonymous says:

        They are moaning about made up fantasy laws. That is why they want to try to extract profits for themselves purely because of nationality alone, because raw talent is not going to cut it for them.

      • Anonymous says:

        The authorities do not raise issues about missing license plates on vehicles either. “I have never been arrested and so it must be legal” cannot really be your honest position, especially in a country now best known for the non-enforcement of its own laws.

        • Anonymous says:

          there is no law or regulation against the practice of law overseas by Cayman firms to be broken. there is no law to be enforced, what is happening now is completely legal.

          • Anonymous says:

            I suggest you re-read the existing Legal Practitioners Law. It is an offence to practice Cayman law without a current, valid, practicing certificate.

            • Anonymous says:

              Only if you are practicing in Cayman…..and that is why the law needs to be modernised!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like he’s threatening that if caymanians stand up for themselves against this bill the firms will stop giving scholarships. How much good is a scholarship when you’re marginalized once you qualify anyways and most of the work is outsourced to cheaper jurisdictions?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ah the good old law society- which is otherwise known as the “Old Boys Lawyers Against Caymanians Club”

  9. Anonymous says:

    Shocking.. the managing partner of one of the biggest firms who happens to be the president of the law society says the 2016 bill is fantastic. How shocking!! The very fact that these firms support it should raise all the red flags. CILS and CBA were hijacked a long time ago.

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