(CNS): Government has juggled the Legislative Assembly order paper and postponed Thursday’s usual ‘private member’s motions day’ to tackle the controversial Legal Practitioners Bill, as the administration is keen to steer it through. On Wednesday Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton presented the legislation to the parliament with the aim of getting it passed, even in the face of the trouble the proposed bill to regulate the legal profession is causing, including allegations of private eyes tailing MLAs and criminal conduct by law firms.
The law was pushed up the agenda due to a combination of pressure from the lawyers in the offshore sector, the need for a modernised piece of legislation to meet the requirements of the financial transparency review Cayman will undergo shortly, and the significant list of amendments filed by members on the opposition bench that will also need to be debated.
Government has a hefty workload to get through before the parliament is prorogued on 28 March ahead of the May general election. With all of the opposition members wanting to have their say on this bill for their full allocated time, dealing with this law alone could take several days.
Panton was accused of having a conflict of interest regarding the bill, a matter that was dismissed by the speaker before he presented what has become Cayman’s most controversial legislation in modern times, even overtaking the furor over the National Conservation Law, another long-awaited and hard-fought law that Panton was able to successfully steer through, eventually with cross-bench support.
Government has also placed its long list of laws ahead of the private members’ motions listed to be heard to make sure it passes its business before the ruling PPM party goes to the country in the hopes of getting another term in office.
This means that the controversial motioned filed by the East End member Arden McLean and supported by Winston Connolly calling for a police inquiry into the conduct of major law firms in Cayman that have overseas offices will not be aired until next week at the earliest, and only if the opposition benches agree to drop all the rest of their long list of motions dealing with many other public interest issues, such as animal abuse, getting a mammogram machine for the hospital, cutting duty for local people and addressing the issue of child sex offenders.
Check back to CNS later for full details of the LPB debate and more coverage from the last session of the LA for this administration.