Law Society laments 30-year struggle for bill

| 18/01/2018 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Alasdair Robertson, the president of the Cayman Islands Law Society, made his annual call for the fundamental reform of the Legal Practitioners Law at the opening of the Grand Court Wednesday, when he reminded the lawyers and lawmakers present that the current legislation is unfit for purpose and was identified as being in need of reform 30 years ago. He lamented the failure of legislators last year to steer a bill through parliament before the election.

“The Law Society greatly regrets that a genuine opportunity to enact a modern Legal Practitioners Bill was lost shortly before last year’s General Election,” Robertson said.

“We can only appeal to the new government finally to take forward the draft bill and to achieve what its predecessors have failed to do,” he said, adding that the “public is entitled to expect that we have modern, fair and proportionate regulation of all lawyers in private practice”.

Robertson said that without the reform, Cayman’s financial services sector will continue to be hindered, with adverse implications for local jobs and prosperity, and local lawyers will continue to be disadvantaged, missing the opportunity to be admitted in England and Wales and other jurisdictions, as he urged government to enact the legislation.

The former financial services minister, Wayne Panton, had made a great effort to try to steer through a piece of compromise legislation that addressed both sides of the conflicting issues surrounding the controversial bill, but like his predecessors before him, he was unable to succeed. The law was attacked by the opposition and a small number of local lawyers and Panton lost the support of Cabinet for the bill. But there has been little comment from the current government since about the state of the legislation that had previously been cited as critical to ensure Cayman passes through the latest review by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

When Attorney General Samuel Bulgin delivered his address at the court event he listed the legislation his chambers would be reviewing over the coming year, but made no mention of the return of the Legal Practitioners Bill. The chief justice also failed to mention the law, though much of his address was taken up by his much bigger immediate problem of the desperate need for a new court-house.

The only other person to mention the law was Stephen Watler, the president of the Caymanian Bar Association, which has been at odds with CILS over the final shape of the legislation. Watler took the position of spelling out what local lawyers want from the legislation rather than rehashing the failures.

Watler presented a long list of ‘must haves’ in the legislation, which demonstrates the continuing challenge as the Law Society has not been on board with all of the requirements.

These included a funded representative and democratically elected, self-regulating governing body, free from political or governmental interference. CBA also wants an efficient, transparent disciplinary process, a code of conduct, provisions for continuous training for local lawyers, limited and general admission, clear and enforceable regulations for lawyers practicing Cayman law outside the jurisdiction, limits on foreign offices, and requirements for local firms to include at least one Caymanian equity partner, business staffing plans, mandatory PQE for overseas lawyers  and limiting the scope of the law to admission, practicing certificates and discipline.

See speeches in the CNS Library

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Category: Courts, Local News

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have had one interaction with local lawyers. I found it almost impossible to understand him because of the strong local dialect. He may have been very intelligent and a great lawyer for locals but I went to an English speaking law firm because of the problem of language.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Follow the UK with the Courts & Legal Services Act, 2007. Open up the exclusive world of law to the not so rich and privileged, those other regulated lawyers who you so openly scorn and refuse to recognise. Give Caymanians alternative routes to qualifying into a career in law just as the UK does (CILEx). Your proposed new, revolutionary, law to “modernise”Cayman’s legal sector is as old as the hills.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The 2007 act did the opposite. It opened up legal markets to the capital owning elite and made it harder for talented members of the lower socioeconomic-economic classes to succeed in building a business with capital value.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    I am hoping that maybe one day soon we will be smart enough to elect a lawyer to the LA to deal with this matter




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  4. Anonymous says:

    to support the rich people interests!😬




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  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s hard to sympathize with lawyers. If they lack the influence to get this done, too bad.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    CNS. All the must haves listed by CBA President were in the LP bill out forth by Hon Min Panton last year. The Law Society supported that bill. The CNS article is thus not the position since the CBA and CILS are in agreement.




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  7. Anon says:

    The Cayman financial services industry is by and for a small foreign high IQ elite enclave that is presently located in Cayman. The money they process is from elsewhere and is headed elsewhere. They could relocate somewhere else at the drop of a hat. Luckily, some of that money benefits actual Caymanians on the way through as Caymanians service the elite by building and maintaining the grand houses, grounds’ cars, and boats they own here, providing their transport needs, entertaining them, feeding them, and the like. Most real Caymanians do not and will not ever have a place in that elite group simply because the small number of native Caymanians can never produce a significant number of high IQ qualifying individuals. That is not because Caymanians are inherently stupid, but because high IQ and exceptional talent is rare in ALL populations. The world class financial elite in Cayman are drawn out of millions of people of people from all over the world.

    The bottom line is this. Don’t covet! Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg by worrying about “our fair share”. Cayman is very lucky to have the foreign financial elite here. Continue to do everything possible to encourage them to stay here and continue to bring those pounds, euros, and dollars into Cayman!




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Two things which have failed to materialize. All the clues to this are in the debates on the Legal Practitioners Bill last March.

    Were you paining attention?




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  9. Anonymous says:

    Can lawyers get anything right these days. They can’t even organize themselves to help with a court house. There are 1000 lawyers here many of who make between $250-500k pa. Some make well over $1m pa. Repay the land of milk and honey and fund the court house.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You are vastly overestimating the salaries of lawyers on the islands, (one too many episodes of suits?). Sure some of them are treated royally but those people have generally put a lifetime of hard work into their professions

      You don’t start out as a lawyer with 250k, you earn it whether persons like you approve or not

      Why don’t you stop allowing the government to get away with all this, they are meant to be administrating the lands and they instead are off trying to make sure the tourists can more easily step off ships walk into town buy their knick knacks and return from whence they came




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      • Anonymous says:

        Most start around $175 fact!!!!




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      • Anon says:

        Have you paid ANY attention to the huge number of cruisers getting off of those ships? If each of them just spends $15 that adds MILLIONS of dollars to the Cayman economy. Cayman used to barely subsist on the earnings of seamen who had to leave their friends and loved ones for months at a time. Do you really want to return to that? Try being at least a little grateful for the blessings that Cayman has. Moreover, think clearly about why expats bring themselves and their money to Cayman and adopt policies to make that virtuious cycle continue.




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  10. Yeap says:

    Caymanians been struggling for longer than that for their fair share. Many lawyers came here with nothong and are now multi-millionaires.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    The CBA is just interested in printing money for CBA members by killing competition.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Stephen Watler.




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    • Hoping for change says:

      I’m happy to see Stephen as the new president but I can still that a lot of old influence is on the board. Certain ones that refused to be voted out! When will CILS and CBA look at the leadership at the law school? What about the exodus of lecturers but the head stays….just saying!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Law School is under the AG’s portfolio. CILS and CBA have no say on the law school budget process or recruitment of law faculty.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Other than this speech what can CBA council show for the past year? Council led by Stephen has not addressed matter of importance. All they do is hold seminars…which is not enough.




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