Skip navigation


 

Legal Practitioners Bill

Premier the Hon. W. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP

The Premier, the Hon. W. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP issued a statement on Friday, 30 November on the Legal Practitioners Bill 2012 and released for public consultation the draft bill, Code of Conduct 2012 and Qualified Firm Overseas Practice Regulations 2012.

On Monday, 11th October 2010 the Attorney General convened a meeting and invited members of the Cayman Islands Law Society, the Caymanian Bar Association, all Members of the Legislative Assembly and various other attorneys, to discuss the status and implementation of the proposed Legal Practitioners Bill.

Following a failure to reach any consensus, the meeting adjourned as legislators were unwilling to further any discussions regarding the Bill without a resolution to the historic conflicts within the profession regarding the training, advancement and integration of Caymanians within firms. Some Caymanian attorneys have also expressed concerns about the ability of some law firms to operate satellite offices abroad, which some have characterized as 'exporting Cayman legal jobs abroad'; they refer to this as outsourcing and say they are worried that one day, Cayman legal services could potentially be solely provided from other countries.

Shortly after that meeting, I consulted with the Hon. Attorney General, Mr. Samuel Bulgin and he agreed that I would invite Mrs. Theresa Pitcairn and Ms. Sherri Ann Bodden-Cowan to review the Legal Practitioners Bill and to make recommendations for changes to it. For over 20 years now, Caymanians have been complaining to their Elected Representatives and various immigration boards about the lack of equal training, integration and advancement opportunities within the firms. And they are still doing so.

I believe that the continuation of the status quo within the profession is not in the best interest of the country, or the legal profession as a whole. I also believe that business must be able to function efficiently and successfully in these islands; while I and the Government as a whole will seek to protect young Caymanians and their future, we have to strive for a balance, and make sure business is also sufficiently protected, for Cayman to survive.

There are other jurisdictions that will be only too happy to get some of our business - so the Government will find the right balance; recognizing amongst other factors, that the practice of law like most other areas of business, is now a global phenomenon.

The major offshore firms have lobbied my government and previous administrations as far back as 2003 to modernise the Legal Practitioners Law so that the profession can be regulated and policies can be developed to facilitate the continued growth and prosperity of the industry.

These firms tell the politicians that they cannot expect to get instructions without an office in foreign jurisdictions; that same time zone, "same day" advice is a must so that it is in Cayman's best interest to be able to service international business with law firm offices in such overseas jurisdictions.

The Chief Justice and the Attorney General also want to see the Law changed so that the profession can be properly regulated.

With assistance from Mr. Sammy Jackson, another Caymanian attorney; Mr. Ian Paget-Brown, the chairman of the Law Review Commission, and the Attorney General's legal drafting team, Mrs. Pitcairn and Ms. Bodden-Cowan have produced a draft Bill. Mrs. Pitcairn kept my Cabinet and me, as well as the judiciary, regularly apprised of its progress and the efforts that she, Ms. Bodden-Cowan and Mr. Jackson made to involve the professional associations in the process.

While I was kept abreast of developments and discussions, I was not involved in any discussions nor did I give directives for what should be in the legal drafting.

I would like to publicly thank Mr. Jackson, Ms. Bodden-Cowan, Mrs. Pitcairn and Mr. Paget-Brown for their hard work in bringing this draft Bill to the consultation stage. I know that this was not an easy task and that valuable time was taken away from their families and businesses to bring this Bill to this stage.

I would also like to thank the Hon. Attorney General, and the Hon. Chief Justice, the Law Review Commission, and the legal drafting team, for their kind assistance in this exercise.

The consultative drafts now being circulated for discussion by one and all represent the culmination of some ten years of discussion, all told. Having made such progress, this Government is committed to seeing this process through in a timely manner, with a view to seeking debate on the final version of the Bills early in 2013. I must stress, therefore, that while consultation is absolutely necessary, these Drafts must be the basis of any representations made.

The consultative drafts now being circulated for discussion by one and all represent the culmination of some ten years of discussion, all told. Having made such progress, this Government is committed to seeing this process through in a timely manner, with a view to seeking debate on the final version of the Bills early in 2013. I must stress, therefore, that while consultation is absolutely necessary, these Drafts must be the basis of any representations made.

My suggested process will be that once the consultation process is completed by mid January, I will hold discussions with the Cayman Bar Association and the Cayman Law Society together. From that meeting, I will take the consultation papers to Cabinet for the approval of a green bill, to be sent to the Legislative Assembly for passage.

While the granting of articles has improved since 2009 with Maples alone giving 48 article clerkships, of paramount importance to a new law is provision for article clerkships. Access to article clerkships and upward progression of any willing, able and qualified Caymanian attorney and the future success of our financial services and law firms is my aim and objective.

Feedback should be submitted directly to Mrs. Pitcairn, at jonanter@candw.ky, to be received not later than Friday 11th January 2013.

-ends-




Premier-gov