101 writes: The initial discussions surrounding the recent private member’s motion put forward by MLAs Winston Connolly and Arden McLean centre rightly on the seriousness of the allegations and the potential damage those allegations pose to the financial services industry and the Cayman Islands as a whole. But beyond the short-term importance of that discussion, it’s time to focus now on the potential issues underlying the debate on the revised Legal Practitioners Bill and the motion brought by two politicians.
Thus far, the exchanges among the Cayman Islands Law Society, the two MLAs and the Minister of Financial Services Wayne Panton has led to some political posturing and bad publicity for the industry but not as harmful as one side suggests. But things will become exponentially worse as the debate continues in the public domain. If you think things are getting heated, just wait until Messieurs Connolly, McLean and Panton start the full debate in the Legislative Assembly fully armed with parliamentary privilege. The expected rhetoric, allegations and counter allegations on the floor of the House during the mandatory debate will create further division within our society and among the legal fraternity, and it will escalate coverage in the international media. All for nought.
The key question we should be focusing on is whether Caymanians have been, and are being, treated fairly within the legal profession in terms of employment, training, and opportunities for advancement and partnership.
The answer to that question from the Law Society may well be a resounding ‘yes’. They might argue that the profession has done a lot for Caymanians and has achieved a lot for Caymanians.
The charge by the two MLAs and their supporters is obviously that the sector has not done enough for Caymanians and that a lot more needs to be done.
And the Ministry of Financial Services might argue the economic impact of the sector, and that the new law being championed by Mr Panton will introduce many protections for the benefit of Caymanians in the legal sector.
Those are three reasonable positions provided each party is sufficiently armed with enough evidence.
But that’s not a discussion.
We now need each party at the table with one and only one focus: securing a bright future for the legal services sector and for Caymanians in that sector.
Such a discussion requires a political ‘cease fire’ by all parties and evidenced-based arguments. Ideally, the final judgement and assessment of everything will need to be made by an objective third party. But with three months before an election, that approach seems unlikely. Alternatively, the discussion needs to be moderated by such a third party.
Cayman Finance has likely ruled itself out as the possible mediator in this process because instead of saying “c’mon guys lets work this out”, they have, via their recent statement on this issue, unwittingly implied “one side seems right but c’mon guys lets work this out”.
And where’s the Caymanian Bar Association in all this?
We should all consider that the politicisation of the issue and the perceived arrogance by one or more parties are all just a reflection of personalities and part of the symptoms. The true underlying source of the problem which has stalled this much-needed piece of legislation for over 15 years has absolutely nothing to do with private investigators, reputational harm to the jurisdiction or 2017 political campaigning.
Instead let’s make one genuine attempt to discuss the key question regarding Caymanian participation in the legal sector openly and directly, accept a less than perfect compromise, and move on.
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