(CNS): Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton finally managed to steer the Legal Practitioners Bill through the Legislative Assembly with support from both sides of the House Friday. Following the closed-door meeting of MLAs on Thursday, all of the members supported the legislation on its second reading, with just the Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and East End MLA Arden McLean stating their ‘aye’ vote was conditional on the changes agreed being confirmed in the committee stage, which government hopes to get to sometime this week.
After weeks of angry allegations, bitter acrimonious debates and countless objections from the official and independent opposition, the parliament finally found common ground.
As he wound up the debate on the contentious piece of legislation to manage the legal profession in Cayman and pave the way to begin eliminating the discrimination and inequitable treatment of qualified and experience Caymanian lawyers, Panton said he hoped there would be further agreement on the law once the bill went through the committee stage process.
“None of us are going to get everything that was wanted on either side but it is critical to get the bill done,” he said, adding that he was pleased with the previous day’s talks, when most members participated in the day-long discussions. He said it was clear there was a “desire by most to work together and come to an agreement” about the bill.
He said that broadly, the government and the opposition had agreed that over the next ten years they wanted to see young Caymanians entering the profession receive the best training available and progress through the firms if they put the necessary work in.
The minister said that over the next 15 years, government expected to see the majority of local attorneys reaching the top, owning and controlling local firms. He said that the decision to force this issue was driven by the increase in the number of local lawyers who had been willing to outline the discrimination they have faced.
Panton said he agreed that Caymanians attorneys had to be offered the opportunities to properly progress if they worked hard and that this would be kept under review and make sure the new law has the positive effects that the parliament was looking for.