MPs back ‘imperfect’ lawyers law

| 16/12/2020 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin in the House of Parliament

(CNS): The Legal Services bill passed unanimously in parliament on Friday, even though both sides of the House pointed to imperfections in the legislation, which is expected to go through dozens of committee stage amendments, today. Formerly the Legal Practitioners Bill, this lawyers law has had a long and controversial history. Steering this latest version through with support from the opposition, Premier Alden McLaughlin said it doesn’t satisfy everyone but it was the closest that any legislation had ever come.

There have been numerous stumbling blocks in the past to getting the desperately needed modern legislation. It is needed to provide both the legal framework for the profession and meet the demands of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and global standards for offshore finance. The premier warned that if Cayman did not address this issue, it would wind up on another blacklist.

McLaughlin said that the current law, which was passed in 1968, was woefully inadequate now, given the changes in the industry, and it was actually hurting the profession, as he stressed the need for the new bill.

“It is my view and that of many that the law as it now stands is not only obsolete but is actually harming rather than helping the practice of Cayman Islands Law,” he told the House. “The status quo is simply not an option.”

The biggest obstacle to introducing a new piece of legislation has been the fact that the profession itself has been unable to agree, given the massive divergence in interests between the large offshore law firms and local sole practitioners.

“The legal fraternity has for more than twenty years been unable to come together and agree and to make a start,” the premier said.

These major differences were compounded by many other issues, including accusations of the unlawful practice of Cayman Islands law outside the jurisdiction by attorneys who have not been called to the Cayman bar, and what many see as the failure of the bigger firms to give adequate opportunities to Caymanian lawyers.

While the premier succeeded in getting this legislation passed, some local lawyers still object to it, believing that it has significant shortcomings.

The Cayman Island Legal Practitioners Association has backed the law but the Association of Legal Professionals and Advocates has opposed it, setting out their concerns in a long document posted in the CNS Library.

As he presented the legislation last week, McLaughlin said the law was the closest he had ever seen to lawyers agreeing to get behind a law that was “capable of addressing the myriad concerns” about the current law, especially regarding professional discipline. “I do not profess that this bill is perfect or that it meets all of the concerns… and that everyone is satisfied… but it is more than a good start,” he added.

The premier explained the hope was that with this initial effort, future governments would be able to improve on it once the law was put into effect.

See the bill and the ALPA concerns in the CNS Library.

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Category: Business, Law, Laws, Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Are these law firms or lawyers permitted to practice in other jurisdictions all over the world (as oppsed to only their own or wherever they are certified)? Or are they doing something here that no other jurisdiction would permit? Genuine question as its not my field. Tx

  2. Anonymous says:

    Alden, unintentionally you have sold us out. No there is not enough of the pie to share with lawyers from every other jurisdiction in the world. It is simply inconceivable that you would conclude that an Island of this size could or should share its main commodity with every other firm outside of the jurisdiction. I scarcely believe you even believe this. The new process of granting status to all and sundry has far exceeded the atrocities of the mass grants under McKeeva that you gnashed your teeth over. Now this is the final sell out. But lets be clear for all of the expats that think this is good, the time will come when you will face social backlash and these Islands that have been good to you now, will demand its pound of flesh. That time is coming. And Cayman will have all of the social anger and unrest of the rest of the Caribbean.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Shameful decision.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Parliament today proved that it is a pig pen full of feckless cowards and stooges willing to bend any way to the big firm masters wills.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Who are these people “unlawfully practicing Cayman law?” Where is the evidence? Sounds like a bunch of jibber jabber.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suggest you ask the Hong Kong office managers of multiple Cayman law firms, or check their websites. They do not even try to conceal the false assertion that they are experts in Cayman law and entitled to practice it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you ever heard of a loophole, genius?
      Our laws are full of them.

      It is so ironic how our Premier is an attorney-at-law and yet we still have so many people exploiting and waltzing over our laws, new and old, like speed bumps!!

      Something’s got to give.

      • Anonymous says:

        If the MPs have their hands in the private sectors’s pocket, it is difficult to let go or pull those hands out. It’s like crazy glue.
        Fund my campaign and you are guaranteed to mess up our laws. Why should government go to the private sector to draft laws? They should come to the government and have the discussion. Too many slick moves.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Despite decades, and hundreds of thousands in personnel-hours by the wider financial services industry, a poor reputation for KYC/AML/CTF/AC persists, largely due to a shielded “above-reproach” legal fraternity, that self-exempt from tapping the brakes with such administrative hassles. Consequently, we are still viewed internationally as the bad guy enablers.

    It’s not that we’re necessarily any worse at due diligence than any other jurisdiction, probably much better for having started to care; but nevertheless, we will always merit the headline opportunity with editors around the world to fuel the journalistic narrative and tax-NGO bias that persists.

    Some of our biggest, fee-motivated legal mills have been lightning rods in the past. They should lead not lag. As a client of theirs, they are no exception and need to do a whole lot better, just to meet parity with other industry efforts. It’s been so quiet, you can almost feel in the air that another spanking is coming.

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG has to spend so much time and energy to pull the private sector to world class status.

      Come on lawyers get your act together. The accountants are leading the way.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Will a 1% share held by a Caymanian status holder living in Canada count as sufficient participation to allow a firm to operate? Asking for a friend. She would like the $5,000 a year that has been promised to go towards a new snowmobile.

  8. A. Local says:

    FYI – there are 72 filed amendments to the bill which must be addressed at the committee stage. The bill passed on first reading but is not yet law. there is a legislative process to be followed in this lengthy process.

    CNS NOTE: The bill passed on its second reading and as noted in the opening para there will be committee stage amendments but the gov and opposition have more or less agreed what they will be hence its passage on the second reading not just the first.

  9. Alric Lindsay says:

    Many persons have been practising Cayman Islands law overseas for decades without a Cayman Islands legal practice certificate. The government has never penalized any of these persons even though the government has always been in a position to identify these persons. Instead, the government turned a blind eye to these practices and if the Legal Services Bill passes into law, the new law will make “ok” behaviour that was not previously “ok”. The government is showing the Caymanian people how it intends to govern in the future and whose interests it will take into account if re-elected. It is also clear that the Opposition needs financial resources and competence to understand complex legal issues which ultimately affect Caymanians and their ability to make a living in Cayman.

    Sadly, ignoring the people’s interests is not unusual. Examples:

    1. When Shirley Roulstone and the CPR Group fought and won the people’s right to hold a referendum vote on the expansion of the cruise berthing facility. The government ignored the people’s constitutional rights and is not allowing the referendum vote on the next election day. The government’s action here is in the interest of cruise ship CEOs.

    2. When the government amended the Freedom of Information Law, disallowing members of the public to obtain certain Cabinet records and then “backdating” the disallowed access to six months before the date of the passage of the law. What is the government hiding?

    3. When the government allowed cement to be poured on our mangroves with no penalty for harm to the environmemt.

    4. When the government refuses on an ongoing basis to enforce litter laws, leaving our beaches lined with garbage, including plastics and waste.

    5. When the children in our public education system are experiencing issues, the economy is short on funds going into the May 2021 elections, yet the government is proposing to spend $160 million on an education building which itself will have little or no impact on the effectiveness on learning or advancement of our children. The combination of a broke government and broke public education system is not good.

    6. The refusal of OfReg to regulate fuel prices to lower the cost of living during the pandemic even though world prices were falling.

    7. Failure to implement anti-trust legislation that would address practices of monopolies who may causes prices to remain high and who may create barriers to entry to various markets rather than getting the best deals for the people.

    The list goes on. As voters, we cant be like the government and turn a blind eye. Vote wisely.

    • PhenomAnon says:

      To put in simpler terms what Alric has stated above; if you vote Joey and Tara and Jon Jon and Alden etc. back into running our country, Caymanians can kiss their cushy financial industry jobs, and our thriving economy, goodbye.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s nothing you can do about what lawyers get up to in other places.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, not true. You see, a crime is a crime, and regulators in other countries get concerned about professionals committing crimes.

    • Alfredo hernandez says:

      Alric give us at least one solution.

    • Know Dadeal says:

      Alric, it is easy to identify problems. Finding solutions and then getting people to work together to implement them is much harder. It’s the first lesson for aspiring politicians. You have been bleating on, but not one meaningful proposal has been offered. Your one solution seems to be to separate Caymanians into different groups based on who is “multi-generational” and who is not and divide the economy to favour one group over another. Good luck with that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alric, I realize its an election year etc but I would like to fact check you on something. CUC has long drawn our anger because of the general cost to the standard of living but Govt and OfReg can confirm that the falling price of fuel was passed on to us. But because of how CUC purchases fuel in advance there is a slight delay in when the cost benefit appears on our bills. So what you’ve said isn’t quite true. I have no political interest what so ever but I would prefer that you pass on accurate information even if you are running.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So will the people who intentionally refused to give Caymanians opportunity, and have been unlawfully practicing Cayman Law, be considered of good character and admitted as officers of our illustrious court?

    • Anonymous says:

      …and will the proceeds of those crimes continue to banked through Cayman Islands financial institutions and distributed to the criminals here and abroad who either directly committed the crimes or benefitted from them?

      And what now happens to the whistle-blowing lawyers who raised concerns and effectively find themselves unemployed in direct consequence?

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear voters,

        Please note the following MLAS sold your children’s opportunity to practice law in these islands today:

        The Dishonorable Premier,
        Moses, the unholy,
        Tara, way down the river and never to be heard of,
        Connolly, the scapegoat puppet,
        Joey who?,
        Eugene being captained,
        Seymour the donkey,
        Kenneth, “know a little” Bryan,
        180 Austin,
        Roy, the sheep counter McTaggert,
        Juliana, off paving my driveway, O’Connor

        Let’s not forget they had some help from the Speaker (or hitter?)

        Now, we should be ashamed of putting these unworthy souls into these positions. Let’s do our best to ensure they are all removed at the next election.

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