Motion not harming offshore, MLAs insist

| 28/02/2017 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service

Independent MLAs (L-R) Alva Suckoo, Winston Connolly, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller

(CNS): As the row rolls on between the opposition and government benches over the Legal Practitioners Bill, Arden McLean, the independent member from East End, has denied that the controversial motion he filed at the Legislative Assembly is intended to harm the offshore sector for political gain. Speaking Monday on behalf of himself and other MLAs, he said they believed the sector would be damaged more if they don’t make a stand about many unanswered questions concerning the current practice of law firms and the proposed bill to govern the profession.

At a press briefing with Ezzard Miller, Alva Suckoo and Winston Connolly, who seconded his provocative motion to open a criminal investigation against some members of the legal profession, McLean said they had all taken the view that it would be “more detrimental to stand by and do nothing” than to ask for those constitutionally charged to look into the circumstances of the motion.

Among the many allegations, accusations and concerns that the members are raising, they believe that as much as $50 million in fees and taxes have been dodged over the last ten years by some major law firms who are allowing lawyers in other countries to practice Cayman law without a licence, which is also taking work away from the jurisdiction.

On the other side of the argument, Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton believes the MLAs are misunderstanding the current legislation and that if what they suggest is happening, the new law will better manage and help prevent rogue firms with no connections to the islands practicing Cayman law.

The independent members, however, claim the current law already prohibits the practice. They say it is not just rogue unconnected firms but ones based here that are offering illegal services overseas, as they promote it on their websites. They believe this is a breach of the legislation and firms could be prosecuted or required to pay back fees and taxes for the lawyers that are practicing Cayman law overseas when they are not qualified or licensed.

Before the new law is passed, which they claim rubber stamps the wrongdoing, the alleged unlawful practices should be investigated.

“We think that given the particular circumstances and all of the raging debate on the Legal Practitioners Bill which is being proposed by the Government, that there are far too many questions regarding the conduct of some law firms, the Bill, its intentions and its design, and too many issues being raised as regards the process by which it was drafted,” McLean said.

McLean claims that all the concerns that have been raised with Panton by politicians, the wider public and some lawyers have been met “with deafening silence”. He said the “serious accusations and concerns which have been raised by various persons could not simply be brushed under the rug and ignored”, as he justified the motion calling for the official inquiry.

Outlining the independent members’ position that they believe law firms are breaking the law, he said people without Cayman Islands practicing certificates were being held out as Cayman attorneys by large firms, which presented a serious liability for the jurisdiction.

“There have also been numerous allegations that overseas law offices have been used to circumvent the intent and purpose of the Immigration Law. Our position is that no person, company or firm is above the laws of our country and that these allegations must be addressed to ensure the wellbeing and protection of our economy and democracy,” he said.

McLean said they did not believe that the LA could debate the Legal Practitioners Bill “when so many members of our community, and perhaps the wider global community, are left to wonder what the true position was regarding the potential breaches of law by law firms and the origin and intent of the Legal Practitioners Bill”.

He also took aim at Panton for accusing the MLAs of politicizing the motion and the bill and obstructing its passage. McLean said all laws were political and, given that the MLAs drafted 32 pages of amendments to the draft legislation, they could not be fairly accused of obstruction.

McLean said they would gladly support a fair bill as he called for an independent investigation into the merits of the complaints that have been made about the abuse of the current law by some the firms. He said government should not ignore the serious accusation and “blindly license certain practices which could be illegal” without a proper investigation and debate in the LA.

One of the main concerns of the MLAs is the lack of progress in the profession of Caymanians; Panton is, ironically, the only lawyer in Cayman since the late 1990’s to make equity partner. They believe the rules are currently being circumvented and the new legislation will not address this problem but make it worse.

Because of what they believe is the discriminatory practices, the MLAs said it would be “a dereliction of our duty to parliament and the people of this country who elected us” if they did not do something to initiate an investigation into what has been happening and create a law to stop rather than facilitate the continuation.

“We make no apology to anyone who may be inadvertently offended by our simple desire to do right by our people,” he said.

See McLean’s statement in full in the CNS Library

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These idiots couldn’t tell the difference between the “offshore industry” and a hole in the road, although they pay the necessary lip-service to it.

    I include Connolly in that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian lawyer who is unable to get a job with the law firms, I am happy to see some movement on this. It is a sad state of affairs as there are at least 10 Caymanian lawyers who are not working yet daily foreign lawyers come into Cayman to enjoy the high quality of life that we as Caymanians do not enjoy.

    • Anonymous says:

      and that Caymanians created!

      • Fred says:

        Created by incomers from the Bahamas and Bermuda, who are now paper Caymanians, but why let facts get in the way of an entitlement rant.

        • Anonymous says:


          • Anonymous says:

            “Bollocks” because someone stated the truth? Cayman’s offshore miracle was invented by those forced out of the Bahamas, bolstered by clever Englishmen and funded in the early decades by hiding the cash of drug barons and tax evaders.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you can’t get a job you are not good enough. Just because your mother said you could be anything you wanted and just because you have a law degree does not mean you are up to it. Do tell us, where is your law degree from and what pass did you get?

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re seriously sick, delusional and deranged.

        • Anonymous says:

          The responses below show the poster who claims to be barred from the profession is the delusional one.

      • Anonymous says:

        First class honours Ivy League. Smart enough to know that racism is real and rampant.

        • #alternativefacts says:

          Yet not smart enough to know that there is no such thing as an Ivy League First Class honours degree.

          • Fred the Piemaker says:


            • Anonymous says:

              Sadly it is not funny. This entire story is based on apocryphal rumors spread by the mediocre and resentful looking to blame others for their own limitations.

        • Anonymous says:

          So the BS meter goes off. Aside from there not being “first class honours” in the Ivy League, an American law degree would not permit you access to the Cayman Bar. That would be your problem right there. If you were honest. Which you are not.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So much noise, so little direct experience, so close to an election. This too shall pass..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Bout time someone stepped upto the plate to fix these wrongs

  5. Anonymous says:

    So glad they have the guts to bring this into the light. No other jurisdiction would have allowed these firms to get away with this!

  6. Anonymous says:

    These clowns have no business in the public sector. They are dangerous self serving fools.

  7. Tell the Truth says:

    If there is any shade of doubt let it now be cleared by an inquiry. If law firms in this country are blameless then there should be no fear of an inquiry. If the PPM Minisyer is not afraid of potential personal liability and/ or reputation all damage then support the inquiry. If the Government is not afraid of truthful revelations then they must support an inquiry. If an inquiry shows that the allegations are true, then the Governor must call for the UK to takeover this country and full inquiries and court proceedings brought against the present Cabinet be commenced.

    It’s a slippery slope for both sides of the argument, fori if an inquiry is finally allowed and it is adjudged that the allegations are frivolous and unsupported then those bringing the motion then they too should suffer law suits and penalties and perhaps then they will have the dignity of removing themselves from politics for evermore,

  8. Marathon says:

    ” Panton is, ironically, the only lawyer in Cayman since the late 1990’s to make equity partner.”

    I think you’ll find that his contemporary and friend Frank Banks also made equity partner at around the same time as Wayne Panton. Frank is tragically no longer with us, which is a great pity not just for his family and friends, but because he could have been a leading light politically one day too, perhaps even in his home district of West Bay.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Unregulated lawyers possibly engaging in the unlawful practice of Cayman Law with the tacit approval and assistance of persons here is what is likely hurting offshore!

  10. Anonymous says:

    He would be a fool to admit it was for political gain, but it was.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If local talent can compete I am all for it. But I have dealt with a local Attorney The lack of understandable English and strange vocabulary made me look elsewhere. I realize this is Cayman but understand you claim to be an international business center and proper English is the language of business.

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess when you refer to understandable English, I take it you mean the Brits English. The Scottish, Irish, Africans among others including people from various parts of the U.K. Also speak non- understandable English but they don’t seem to have any problems find jobs in the legal fraternity here on island . Your comment does not make any sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      So move.. nobody is forcing you to be here

  12. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of lawyers, which of our local Johnny Cochran’s have given them this legal advice? Are we (the public purse) expected to pay for these half-baked legal excursions (and future settlements)?

    • Anonymous says:

      Would you rather pay for an investigation or pay for the jurisdictional risk and future liability that these unqualified “attorneys” are subjecting us to?

      • Tell de Truth says:

        To be honest ole boy 12;)) AM, we need to clear the air on this matter, If there are untruths being spread then an investigation should flesh them out. For too long we have heard this cry undercover, spoken of very softly and now that its reached this stage we must press on to the end. A cleansing will certainly not make us pure, but most certainly either way it plays out it will demonstrate that the Cayman Islands is a serious jurisdiction who either does not tolerate breaking of the law or false innuendoes cast on its legal system. Just my opinion.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is more risk on imposing additional costs on Cayman work or forcing clients to use lower quality attorneys. The attorneys in question are perfectly able to do the work they do.

  13. Fred the Piemaker says:

    Right now there is nothing in Cayman law to stop anyone overseas holding themselves out as providing Cayman legal advice. And to say its a circumvention of the Immigration Law,which is restricted to work done in Cayman, is completely irrelevant, since the Immigration Law just doesn’t apply to work done by non residents outside of Cayman. Cart before horse time. If you want to stop foreign firms from providing legal advice on Cayman law outside Cayman, better have a law in place that says that before you start bumping your gums,and if you want Cayman based firms to have to pay work permits for people not even in the country, better change that law too.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why are the authorities silent? Why are questions not being asked? How come so many people ar practising Cayman Law without being admitted? How come no Caymanians make it into partnerships? Who owns Cayman firms?

  15. Pooh Bear says:

    Strange bedfellows indeed. Shame for Winston really as he used to be somewhat respectable.

    • Anonymous says:

      He is now even more respectable.

      • Pooh Bear says:

        Incorrect. He picked a fight that the common man couldn’t care less about. He was correct however in raising the point that the local law school is inadequate. Everyone already knew that however, they just haven’t had the balls to say it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Please confirm the basis on which you say a Liverpool Honours degree is inadequate?

          • Pooh Bear says:

            My bad. It is after all the 28th ranked University in the U.K. when it comes to law degrees. What more could we possibly ask for?

            • Anonymous says:

              We are not in the UK. Anyway, how does Liverpool compare to South African and Australian institutions, and which ones teach Cayman Islands Law?

              • Anonymous says:

                4th ranked tertiary education establishment in the Cayman Islands. Just ahead of the Civil Service College. Face it, it’s crap.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Answer the question. Which institution taught you Cayman Islands Law?

                  • 15 Minutes to Wapner says:

                    Hardly a noble profession and certainly not one i would stoop low enough to become involved in. Besides, our Law School is shit.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    If one has a decent legal education, you can learn “Cayman Islands law” in about a week.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      Shame all the people practising Cayman Law unlawfully failed to do that. They might have stopped before it was too late.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      A week? I’m not sure it takes that long.

          • Anonymous says:

            Had I realized that Scouseland was the University of choice for Caymans lawyers I would have immediately dropped my sympathy for foreign lawyers. That would, however explain some of the attitudes to be found.

      • Anonymous says:

        No. Winston is just trying to stay politically relevant and throwing a torpedo into our financial services industry because he gave up on his career at Walkers, gave up on his career at Maples, blew up his own career as an independent director in order to go into politics and then dipped out on being an Education Councillor when he had the chance to make REAL change for the lives of all Caymanians rather than the elite few who would choose a legal career. What Winston is doing is taking attention from the fact that he abandoned his real opportunity to make a change in education and training.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think you will find that Winston will make more changes for the better for these islands than all the rest of the politicians put together

  16. Anonymous says:

    As a young Caymanian lawyer it is very disheartening to see politicians doing everything in their power to torpedo my industry.

    I have had a couple of questions regarding the motion from concerned clients just today, the world is starting to take notice.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same here! I’m a Caymanian attorney and Winston won’t even look me in the face.

      • Anonymous says:

        You probably,y walking around with your head hanging low. To many Caymanians expecting someone else to embrace you and speak up for you. Time for each and every true Caymanian to rise up and try to understand what is happening to us in our own homeland.

      • Anonymous says:

        He probably does not think you deserved your status grant after so little time here.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Of course lawers in Honk Kong, New York, London, Luxembourg etc…. are practicing Cayman Islands Law without a local certificate, and it’s causing Govt coffers to lose millions due to non payment of local fees.

    You would have to be living in the midst of the Amazon Jungle to not know, believe or hear of this happening over the past years.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be from the middle of the Amazon jungle to be so daft.

      Gov is not losing anything – it is earning millions because there are lawyers in overseas offices. If we didn’t have those, our financial services industry would be 40 – 50% smaller than it is.

      If that were the case Government would have revenue of only 150 million rather than the 300 million is gets from the industry now AND there would be thousands less local jobs.

      And who would benefit if there were no overseas offices of Cayman firms? Bermuda, BVI, Jersey, Ireland, Guernsey, Isle of Man etc etc. They would all likely have bigger stronger economies at our expense.

      Is that so hard to understand?

  18. Anonymous says:

    At least Winston has proved how unimpressive he is before he was given any responsibility.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Be interesting to find out who is pulling the strings here because none of these four are smart enough to do it on their own.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You’re out of your league Arden!

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