MLAs agree to talk to each other about LPB

| 16/03/2017 | 40 Comments

(CNS): After weeks of arguing, acrimony and allegations between government and the opposition benches over the current Legal Practitioners Bill, all members of the Legislative Assembly have finally agreed to sit down and discuss the content and narrow down disagreement so that everyone can support it. Politicians spent most of Wednesday quarreling over who drafted the law and who paid for it. But minutes before the House was adjourned, at around 11pm last night, the opposition stood up and accepted the premier’s invitation to address the mountain of amendments proposed by both sides together in a focused meeting.

While government is proposing more than 60 amendments to the draft, which was first circulated in October, and the opposition is filing another 130, the premier has repeatedly stated that there is still considerable common ground about the law but that the entire House needs to be involved in narrowing down the areas of disagreement and amendments to create a workable piece of legislation.

Late last night, after the rows over the involvement of the Caymanian Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society in the drafting and financing of the legislation died down, a deal was agreed to work together. Following the intervention of the three longest-serving members of the House, the row de-escalated and a meeting was confirmed for Thursday to allow the contributions of all members, so that a far fewer amendments could be made to bill before it is passed into law.

Members became heated and allegations of conflict and deception were hurled from the opposition benches to government, and at Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton in particular, when it was confirmed that the Law Society, described by Alva Suckoo as the “perpetrators of discrimination” against Caymanians, had paid the £50,000 fee to a UK expert to draw up the first draft.

Wayne Panton and Premier Alden McLaughlin made it clear that this decision was made in 2014, when both Suckoo and Winston Connolly, who have both been vehemently critical of the bill, were still part of the PPM government and knew about the decision because of the need to get the bill done quickly in the face of a significant backlog of legislation in Cayman’s own drafting department. Panton also noted that the preliminary draft was then redrafted by the legal department’s own drafters before it came to Cabinet to be signed off.

The premier stated several time that his government was not trying to undermine the interests of Caymanians in the legal profession, quite the contrary, and the opposition was wrong to try to win political points by derailing the bill and allowing the status quo, which everyone agreed was bad, to prevail.

Enforcing the point that he was keen to get the most favourable legislation possible for local attorneys, McLaughlin noted that if he was defeated in the elections in two months time or in four years, he will be going back to the profession. More importantly, he said, his wife is an attorney and his son is just completing his articles with a major law firm. With so many members of the McLaughlin family in the law profession, he said there was no one more vested in ensuring that it worked for Caymanians.

As he urged members to work with the government on this law, he said that as much as he was uncomfortable with affirmative action measures, if the  “tortuous history” of this law was any indication of the future, there would be no significant change in the profession regarding the discrimination of Caymanians unless government gets a modern bill passed to regulate the sector that also legislates as much as possible to stop the discrimination everyone agreed was happening.

He accepted that the legislation may not be perfect and that it was not unusual to have committee stage amendments to any law, though he said he had never seen so many on one bill, but he said it was “not fatally flawed or terrible”, as he urged the members to come together and narrow down the disagreements.

The members are meeting in the LA building in camera to discuss amendments to it and try and arrive at some consensus. However, there are large gaps in opinion, with Ezzard Miller, the MLA for North Side, firmly opposed to the legislation allowing local law firms to practice local law outside Cayman at all, while Minister Panton has pointed out the need to create an environment that allows it to flourish because of the business it drives back to the jurisdiction.

The other problem is the reaction of the profession to a law that is markedly different from the one that took many years for the CBA and CILS to agree on.

The normal proceedings of the LA are expected to resume Friday.

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Comments (40)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    government should also get its house in order before trying to fix what is wrong with the legal profession in private practice.

    Look at the number of foreign lawyers it hires from the AG, SG, DPP right down the list…ZZZZ get real dudes

  2. just asking says:

    What happened to the commission of inquiry of forty years of legal fees not been paid and the illegal practice of cayman islands laws overseas without being qualified.

  3. Anonymous says:

    third world

  4. Anonymous says:

    Undermining the productivity of law firms by forcing them to promote dead weight who are promoted other than in the basis of talent can hardly be good for the economy.

    • Anonymous says:

      If that’s how they feel about local talent let them pack up and get out! You get packing as well!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Are the MLA’s going to talk to the Law Society and ask some hard questions of them (on oath) so we and they really know what we are dealing with?

    How can our MLA’s prescribe a solution without taking the time to understand the issues and where, if anywhere, skeletons may be hidden?

  6. Lenard Whittaker says:

    Some commenters on here are really being childish and naive if they believe that there is something wrong with Government seeking private sector assistance in drafting laws. In fact many people feel that it should be mandated that it be done.What may seem unusual about this situation is the fact that CILS paid for this draft; however the important point is that no Mlas received payment for doing the drafting ( that would be very wrong).
    These funds were paid to a private individual outside the Islands.This draft was reviewed and redrafted by Government’s own legal Dept before being sent to the Legislative Assembly as a Bill for debate and fine tuning ( that is why there is a committee stage in this process).It now seems that this Bill is finally getting through committee where alterations will be made and hopefully the result will be the birth of a new and improved Legal Practioners Law .
    Lenard Whittaker.

    • Anonymous says:

      How do we know that nobody got paid to bring this Bill???

    • Anonymous says:

      By the way all these amendments wouldn’t have been necessary if the Bill had been balanced and benefited that Cayman Islands before it was shoved down our throats.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If the PPM had any decency they would now apologise to the public for bringing a flawed Bill that was drafted by the private sector for their own benefit and sit down and fix it. Mistake or not this is exactly why you don’t let people write their own laws. Glad people caught onto what was happening. It’s outrageous!

  8. Melanie Hulse says:

    When was Winston EVER a member of the PPM? Please fact check!

    CNS: the word “government” had been left out. Winston Connolly was not a member of the PPM but he was a part of the PPM government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Melanie, Winston may not have a member of the PPM party, but for 3years he was a part of the PPM administration. He was not just a backbencher but was a counsellor and I believe on occasion he even filled in for the Minister of Education. There Winston and Al must also take credit for any accomplishments of the PPM. Likewise they will also have to accept blame for any faillings of the PPM over that period. I know that lately they have been like Simon Peter and in denial but they can’t escape that fact.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Get it right PPM. The intentional loopholes by these fraudsters have been identified and brought to the attention of Parliament by the brave and clearly intelligent Caymanian attorneys who have risked their livelihoods. Get it right PPM.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Goodness, the big firms better recruit hard pronto and get promotions going before this pre-election silliness imposes long-term burdens on them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Winston and Alden, thank you for bringing so much transparency to this! We never would have known how bad things really are here how incestuous our country has become. Cils paid $50k to police themselves I wonder what else hasn’t come to light yet. Scary times!

    • Anonymous says:

      Every association discusses legislation with the Ministries or LA, because they are the people working in the business and understand it best. Do you think that a government of 18 MLA’s is going to understand international corporate finance? Of course not…and still waiting for someone to show me where this law is bad for Caymanians, I read it, cant see it…

      • Anonymous says:

        Discussing legislation with the ministries is one thing but paying for the legislation to be drafted is another. The concept has long been that the person who is getting a benefit for the legislation pays for its drafting. For example when most legislation is benefiting the Cayman Islands then the Government pays for it, if the drafting for this legislation was paid for by the Law Society the benefit is most likely for the CILS unless they just happen to be great philanthropist.

        Interestingly this got to the LA as a Government Bill the Minister with responsibility did all of the rounds defending and promoting it as being great along with the law associations and then all of a sudden the Premier who leads the government in his debate on the bill acknowledges that the Bill “falls far short of what is necessary for fair regulation of the legal industry”. Wow!!!, what does that say about the CILS and the government who brought the Bill, I say the government as I don’t think it would be fair to just blame the minister.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is a difference in discussing with the private sector and letting an association draft their own law, pay for it themselves and then pretend it’s a government bill. You really don’t get it do you? I guess they hoped everyone would be so naive!

        • Anonymous says:

          How do you think most finance laws came about? Discussion and consultation with industry….seen it happen numerous occasions. You should check facts 5.48 before putting foot in mouth.

          • Anonymous says:

            There is a HUGE difference between discussions with the ENTIRE sector and what went on here!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Even Ray Charles could see it!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not Winston and Alden, Winston and Arden brought the motion? Yes Winston and Al might have been there in 2014 when it was decided to finalise the bill, but that does not mean that they agreed with all that was in the bill. Nor would they know what were the changes and how many changes would have been made since. Unless he has the proof that they agreed with every word in the bill that point is futile. The Premier would be more acceptable if he could resist his little childish digs. Reminds me of the big guy up to the north.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What a joke that we pay these morons to grandstand like this.

  13. Anonymous says:

    whatta a waste of time and energy

  14. Anonymous says:

    P.s the bill the ppm presented cements the status quo plus some nice perks for he large firms. Thank god winston and arden caught them red handed

  15. Anonymous says:

    Man CNS you really have your own agenda for reporting on this. You’ve totally missed the most important points like the that Minister Panton first pretended not to know who paid for the bill and then went on to explain it was the cils. Do you understand the significance of what it means that the government brought forward a privatized private interest bill as their own and pretended that it was for the benefit of the country?! Do you understand what that means at all??

    • Anonymous says:

      9:33. You got it so wrong. Government gave instructions for the bill to be drafted. Who paid for the drafting is irrelevant. What is important is who approved what was drafted.

      And since when is government outsourcing to the private sector a bad thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Since when is government outsourcing a bad thing? Since allowing firms to write their own laws and pay for it indicates a corrupt process! The ppm didn’t even know who drafted it and who paid for it (so they claimed) at first. Yea… let’s let cycle write and pay for their own laws too… let’s allow convicts to write their own penal code

    • Melanie Hulse says:

      And that Winston was NEVER a member of the PPM!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes Melanie he was a big part of the PPM Cabinet, even acting as Minister on occasion. Maybe you didn’t know that or maybe you are hoping others didn’t know or forgot.

        • Anonymous says:

          Melanie is stating a fact. She is correct. Just because Mr. Connolly performed governmental functions, he was still never a member of the PPM.
          I believe that Melanie is asking you to get your facts straight.

          CNS: We are responsibe for the confusion. As noted in another comment, the word “government” had been accidentally left out when the article was first published. Winston Connolly was not a member of the PPM but he was a part of the PPM government. These are the facts that I think everyone is agreed on.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Unna betta get it right. Election Day nah too far off!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Commission of Inquiry? Have members of the profession broken our laws and then tried to mislead our government, or not?

    • Anonymous says:

      They were drafting legislation to regulate themselves and Panton et al saw nothing wrong with this. It was remarkable that he did not know who paid the drafter. Really now

      • Anonymous says:

        Really really shocking! I can’t believe what is happening in this country! Government should hang their heads in shame and we should demand an investigation into how this all came about I think there must be more to this story!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup, and seems so. Could the Law Society please confirm the names of the 23 Caymanians it alleges has been advanced into equity partnership in the major firms in part in consequence of their legally mandated and much promoted training and advancement schemes?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Did Mummy tell the little ones to grow up and stop behaving like children, or their toys would get taken away?

    • Jah Dread is back says:

      No mummy was not involved it was Dady who heard you peeping outside and came and kicked your butt. ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Did Daddy tell the Law Society to be straight with some fundamental facts?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Every likkle ting gonna be awright…

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