Lawyers not above the law, say MLAs

| 07/03/2017 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

East End MLA Arden McLean

(CNS): The four independent MLAs who believe that local legal firms could be breaking the law by offering Cayman legal advice and services outside the jurisdiction through unlicensed attorneys said Monday that the professionals in the sector are not above the law, as they stood by their call for an investigation. They said comments by Cayman Finance implying that the MLAs were the problem rather than the conduct of the law firms were “deeply disconcerting”.

In a statement to the press about the controversies surrounding the Legal Practitioners Bill and what they see as the authorities turning a blind eye to past wrongdoing by law firms, East End MLA Arden McLean said the industry body was trying to interfere with the “supremacy of parliament” by trying to stop the legitimate private member’s motion.

He accused them of making “inaccurate and deliberately self-serving” comments about the motion, its alleged threat to the financial services sector and the part the legal profession plays in it by suggesting that the politicians were at fault rather than the law firms and lawyers.

“To suggest the motion is improper in any way and that the airing of the motion but not the alleged activities of the firms is what is a threat to the integrity of the financial services is wholly refuted,” McLean said on behalf of himself and his opposition independent colleagues, Winston Connolly, Alva Suckoo and Ezzard Miller.

“Surely Cayman Finance is not suggesting that such serious allegations should not be thoroughly investigated and the law firms and their partners should be above investigation of criminal allegations while the average Caymanian is not,” he asked rhetorically.

The four independent politicians made it clear that they are not likely to drop the issue anytime soon, and said that “money, power or international embarrassment” should not come before the rule of law.

The four MLAs believe that the current legislation is clear on the matter. However, the government and the offshore sector believe the law is clear that only attorneys practicing Cayman law within the jurisdiction require a licence; they are not restricted from practicing Cayman law overseas without a licence and doing so is not an offence and liable to conviction.

The issue appears to be one of interpretation, and although the four MLAs believe they are right and the legal profession has been breaching the law for many years, they said the investigation would address the alleged ambiguity.

The MLAs also said that there are two aspects to their concerns about this law: one is that government is about to pass a bad piece of legislation that would sanction previous wrongdoing over practicing Cayman law, the other is that the new Legal Practitioners Bill is still not balanced enough to protect Caymanians.

Winston Connolly, a former lawyer who worked with two of the largest offshore firms, said that he saw and reported bad practice when he was in the profession and saw the way local lawyers are treated. Indicating that only one Caymanian has made equity partner in the last 18 years, Connolly suggested that either the law school, which he claimed has been lauded as “ivy league standard”, is getting things “terribly wrong” or the law firms are discriminating against local lawyers and the draft legislation will not help that.

Others, however, have argued that the bill Wayne Panton is hoping to steer through the Legislative Assembly this month after it re-opens Wednesday is a massive improvement on the previous law and will go some way to addressing the inequities and provide a system to licence overseas attorneys to better control and regulate the industry even overseas.

Connolly said he does not object to the principle of licensing attorneys in overseas offices to practice Cayman law but it is important that they are connected to the jurisdiction, that they are properly vetted and that local lawyers get chance to gain the experience overseas as well. The underlying concern is that making it too easy could see a lot more professional legal work, and with it the fees and support jobs, leave the jurisdiction.

During the press briefing McLean revealed that before Cayman Finance released a statement on Friday criticizing him and his parliamentary colleagues, a representative had reached out and offered to mediate between lawyers and the MLAs. But when they asked for confirmation on whose authority the person was acting, what issues they proposed to discuss and for a more formal written request, the organisation did not respond, he said.

The issues, complaints, allegations of discrimination and disagreements over striking the right balance regarding this law and the profession it is intended to regulate has generated disagreement for more than a dozen years.

Since the government has a slim majority, it is likely that the bill will pass and the motion will fail sometime over the next few weeks, but accusations from both sides will undoubtedly continue.

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Category: Politics

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Remember that issue about the stamp duty on leases that landlord’s are supposed to pay? None of them have ever paid it. I think it was an expat lawyer brought that issue up and asked for an investigation since it was clearly against the law and it was all quietly swept under the rug because most of the landlords are locals (and some are in the LA).

    I guess some people are above the law after all.




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    • Anonymous says:

      There is a major problem with your argument. Under the law, the tenant is the one with the legal obligation to pay the stamp duty.

      From a legal analysis published by Ogier:

      Call of Duty: Stamp Duty and Residential Leases in
      Cayman

      “The SDL provides that in respect of any “conveyance or transfer of land, strata title or interest
      therein” the transferee shall ensure that the relevant instrument is filed and the duty paid. In the
      case of the grant of a lease, the transferee is the tenant.”

      Truthseeker




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  2. The lone Harauguer says:

    Greedy fks, don’t regular lawyers start at 75 k and go up from there. You all better shut the f up before firms start closing and throwing Caymanians out of good paying jobs.
    Check your money not what other people are making.




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    • Anonymous says:

      It is high time to face reality. The culture that is locally perpetuated in the private and public sector is that one must be a YES man to get ahead. This colonial relic has not gone away but is intensified by the new residents and work permit holders.

      History does not change anything.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    Arden and Winston searching for relevance




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Where was all this outrage when the AG was pointing out that government departments, including the Premier’s own ministry of finance, had failed to track spending or do basic accounting for a decade and that around $1b was unaccounted for? That calling it incompetence was too kind and that it was probably a deliberate policy to hide rampant abuse? And now the MLAs are saying “no-one is above the law” huh? Other than them of course. Remember the Stan Thomas letter? The Dynamite? The Ritz duty waiver? The Gasboy cards? CINICO? HSA? Juliana OCC booking out all those hotels in the Brac (where she had her home)? The same MLA and her entourage going to a 5 star resort in Africa for three weeks for a conference about postage? Mac gambling with his government credit card? Joey Ebanks bringing a sackful of cash to the Turtle Farm to pay back the money he had taken? CIFA?

    There’s probably 100 more and nobody said a word. Now all this outrage from the locals about some of this country’s most valuable corporate citizens.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    These law firms are doing dodgy business on both ends. They perform work in the U.K. For example and bill it “outside the scope of VAT”. Mother England won’t be best pleased when she finds out. Serious times ahead.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t know much about VAT do you?




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    • Jotnar says:

      We have UK lawyers work for us all the time, and they bill outside the scope of VAT too. Because it is outside the scope of VAT! Nothing to do with whether the law firm is in the UK or not.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    “The supremacy of parliament”? Wow. Therein lies the problem. A bunch of at best half wit MLA’s believe they are supreme. Most writers on here have spent years moaning about inaction about the whole LA until these idiots stand up on the Race Wagon just before an election….really guys? Every election season…




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    • Anonymous says:

      Hardly any perpetuation of race or “Race Wagon” as you say. You should know who are the masters at that. The supremacy of parliament is a well entrenched part of the Westminister system, in case you do not know see UK Constitutional law 101.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    MLAs not above the law, say lawyers.




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  8. A says:

    Arden Mclean – worst person ever!




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  9. Anon says:

    Keep pushing Arden, Winston and team. These law firms should not be allowed to have their foreign jurisdiction employees practice our Law without being duly licensed to do so!




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  10. Philip says:

    Funny how Winston keeps carrying on about only one Caymanian making partner in the last 18 years, i can think of at least 9 and I do not even work in the legal profession, including one whom this time four years ago spent a great deal of time raising funds for Winston and his Cayman First associates, if he is meaning that Caymanian’s that have gone though the Cayman Law School then he needs to Clarify that.

    Its also well know that you would need to put in 20-25 years before you would even make Equity partnership and nowadays most law firms are doing away with the whole structure of the equity partnership anyway, so perhaps all Winston has done is now stopped a Caymanian getting a partnership in the next few months due to the big firms not wanting to show that they are caving into politicians , either way one thing is for sure Mr Connolly has just burned every bridge he may have had to return to the private finance sector, and given the fact the many of his votes last election can from those within the finance sector he has just also now burnt his bridge of getting reelected, or perhaps he already knew this hence the motion now.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You are totally disconnected from fact. A great many of the Caymanians who are reported to be partners in the larger firms are not in fact partners. The suggestion that it takes 20 to 25 years to become a partner is nonsense. Ask the expats how long it took. It is half that time!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Ah, the old Partners who are not Partners trick, eh? I am guessing that you think a degree in cleaning cars qualifies you on this subject. I don’t know anywhere in the world where it doesn’t take 20-25 years to make partner. You overlook the fact that the “furreners” may have done their 20-25 years elsewhere before being offered partnership here…or did that slip your one brain cell?




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      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody asks the Question. Why? The answer is obvious, not all law schools are created equal. In the 50% of the schools that are below average 50% of the students are below average. Now if you are a law firm which school would you hire from. If your clients could communicate better with some one who spoke proper English than local dialect would that be some one from the Island or maybe off Island and from a much better accredited School. If you want to know the value of your education, It is what someone is willing to pay for it. Not what the government dictates.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Philip you hit the nail directly on its head and you probably don’t even realise it. Anytime a local speaks up, whether qualified or not there is the real fact that they risk their careers, whether private or public. That has always been a huge problem here, they can dump any amount of crap on our heads and we are just suppose to shake it off and stay quiet and docile. They can deprive us of the opportunity to make an honest living while they rake in the spoils and our own people in authority won’t even say a word on our behalf instead they pass laws and support amendments to legalize what they do to us..It is past time for real Caymanians to take their heads out of the sand and speak up, I can see a glimmer of hope for the future because finally we have a few good men and women who will speak up. Many of us out in the public arena thank you , one day soon we will shut down our computers for awhile and come out in the streets to join you. The movement has started and many of us are getting involved.




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    • Mr. Connolly, you are totally delusional if you believe the local law school is of an Ivy League standard. Stop promoting false news. You surely should have spent more time in American law schools and in the American legal system and then you would not be promoting this fictional idea. You really owe it to the average Caymanian to be truthful about the reality of the local law school.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    i agree ….go MLA’s go……give them heck….at the end of day….oit all about money in the lawyers pockets…..




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  12. Judge Dredd says:

    It’s a lie! The evidence has been falsified! It’s impossible! I never broke the law, I AM THE LAW!




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  13. Anonymous says:

    But Arden, they are above the law.




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  14. NS Bob says:

    …but most of the MLA’s think they are above the law….guess the two doer’s of nothing for thieir districts are just a bit jealous. If they only put the same energy into helping those in their district, it would be a better place. I still am fearful of the welcome committee across the street of the barn. Every time I get some food or a drink I am constantly harrased and begged. Those youth and mature men should be working. Maybe, Mr. Miller could employ them cleaning the district up instead of waiting for Christmas time. North Side is a great place to live, but surely our representatives can make it better.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Stop being so small minded and worrying about “districts” we are one tiny country and these men are trying to help their country!




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  15. Anonymous says:

    ‘Money, power or international embarrassment should not come before the rule of law’.
    These clowns do realise where they are and what they actually do on this island surely? These are prime candidates for the self-serving, double dipping, over paid, under achieving, hypocritical wannabes that would grace any third world banana republic. It’s election time, just wait for the free food and false promises of better times to come out of their duplicitous mouths. They have built their careers on being an international embarrassment, inappropriately using their power and influence to further their own agendas, and certainly don’t shy away from dipping heavily into the public purse.
    Don’t get me wrong, some bottom feeding lawyers are no better, but to see a whole profession of intelligent individuals and vital local industry dictated too by these fools is somewhat ironic and quite frankly ridiculous. As with anything Ezzard and his EE puppet get involved in, there will be consequences, but they are just not smart enough to work them out and Cayman will suffer as a result of their nationalistic agenda.




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    • Grandma got run-over says:

      Surely you speak of politics world-wide; not unique to Cayman dear.

      The world continues to suffer at the hands of greedy and arrogant lawyers, politicians, statesmen, bankers, leaders; you name it. This has been on-going for quite sometime.

      Eventually (sad to say), Cayman will be once again left behind someday when England decides we are no longer of any use and discards of us. Then, all the expats will leave and all the natives will be left behind to continue the bickering and complaining, with no-one to listen or care.

      Back to smoke pans and the ol’ caboose! YICKS!!!!!!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Stop bashing people when they try to make a difference and actually stand up against corruption- that is the only way the Caymanian people will ever have a better life- if we come together instead of always pulling one another down! I am proud of them for seeing this through and I expect the AG and DPP to do their jobs now and independently investigate and prosecute any firm that has broken the law!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Tell me 12.00, do you actually understand what this is all about, or did you just believe or hear from your imaginery friend that “Caymanians are being done down” with no facts to prove it?




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        • Wise Man says:

          I actually agree with 12.00 an independent investigation should be completed and we the public should support that rather than tearing down the messengers to damage the message.

          If a firm or person is operating without having the appropriate license then they are guilty of an offense. We really must dislike our own people that we are fine to beat up the little guy trying to make a living selling wares on the side of the road or on the beach but we are willing to overlook law firms making millions without proper licensing.

          If there are significant penalties owed, then use this leverage and come to an agreement that benefits the people. No admission of guilt, pay a significant penalty and we will regularize the past but require licensing for all going forward. Monies from penalty used to upgrade/construct Law School and establish Legal Regulatory Oversight Authority.




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          • Diogenes says:

            You seem to have pre judged the outcome of the investigation. What if it turns out to be just like the invisible PIs?




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  16. Anonymous says:

    Take this a step further and look at what is happening with all the companies on island that discriminate against Caymanians. All companies hire expats as a priority and only advertise locally and interview a local as a formality. In more cases than not the expat has already been hired.




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    • Anonymous says:

      It seems some law firms do not even bother to advertise and fib as to whether Caymanians hold certain positions to get permits.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    On the Rooster radio show this morning the President of the Law Society clearly stated that he had the names of 23 Caymanians that had been made partners of firms.

    He then gave some examples of persons who had started their own firms or who had become partners in local firms before the international players came in and took them over.

    Perhaps he can save any investigation and put us all at ease. Who are these partners of whom he speaks who have ascended through the ranks to the highest levels of the firms responsible both legally and ethically for training them?

    Please also let us know the dates (in the last 18 years) on which they became partners. That would really help with concerns that firms may not have been providing a fair opportunity.




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    • Lale says:

      Exactly.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The president of the law society and Cayman finance should tell us if there are any MLAs on their boards?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Equity! Equity is the goal. Equity like the Scotts’ achieved at EY with the help of the LCCL allowing them lavish lifestyles and fawning praise from their community. Why should Caymanian lawyers be denied the same financial security and prestige? There is nothing different about law except its insular obsession with sadist and openly discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Why should they get statutory financial security and prestige literally only because of where they were born? There’s a word for that.




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        • Anonymous says:

          What word is that? They shouldn’t, I’m saying these firms obviously need a push to recognise the talents and potential of those on the partnership track and promote them all the way to full equity. As long as they think “partner” is a throwaway title to be given to expats found wanting and talented Caymanians to satisfy Immigration, this will continue and eventually lead to open revolt.




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  18. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    Wow David versus Goliath. If the firms’ committed no wrong doing. Why so much push back against the motion? The government hasn’t articulated this clear enough I believe.

    If laws are being broken, consequences are appropriate.

    They need to go after the pensions next, people need more flexibility in how their funds are handled. Free ride for pension administrators should end soon.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Why because all these fat cats will protect one another and the gravy train they have been riding. This will never end until peoples attitudes change and we get some new politicians who care about the people and getting Cayman as a more fair place for all but the truth is that money talks and bull#$@! walks!




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  19. Anonymous says:

    Where where is the AG? Where is the accountability? More than a decade of abuses and he has done nothing. Now we are at boiling point, and still nothing!




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    • Anonymous says:

      We still have an Attorney General? I thought that post was made redundant long ago.




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      • Anonymous says:

        He was given status so his fixed-term contract was converted into an open-ended contract. That is why he has served longer than any other Attorney General and why he can now hardly get out of bed to do his job. An expat on a fixed-term contract would be doing something to earn another; a true Caymanian on an open-ended contract would be using their tenure for the benefit of the industry and the country. There’s your answer.




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      • Anonymous says:

        EXACTLY!! AG, DPP your people DEMAND you to act!!!!




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