Lawyers’ law still not right

| 10/12/2012

law_books.png(CNS): The president of the Cayman Islands Law Society, Alasdair Robertson, has made it clear that the latest draft of the proposed revision of the legal practitioner’s law is still not acceptable to the profession.  He stated that the industry will need more time for consultation and that it will be submitting extensive comments to the draft currently on the table. The on-going impasse with lawyers and government over the bill seems set to continue, despite the premier’s recent comments that this draft had to form the basis of the law which he wanted to see the new draft reach the Legislative Assembly early next year .

“We are going to make extensive comments on this latest draft,” Robertson said, adding that he wished government had opted for a previous draft of the law which had been drawn up by the profession based on a commitment paper. “An updated legal practitioner’s law is both necessary and long overdue. It has been delayed because of concerns raised over the practice of Caymanian law outside the islandand because of other issues regarding Caymanian and aspiring attorneys.”

The continuing impasse on the proposed law is that this latest bill directly ties immigration issues, commitment to the community, and the training and promotion of Caymanian attorneys to the criteria for firms to qualify for an overseas practitioner’s licence, which Robertson says is far too subjective. He warned that local law firms would need more certainty attached to the requirements for this important license and would not seek to grow overseas business if their license depends on so many variables and possible interpretations.

Speaking publicly about the draft law on behalf of the profession at a press briefing in Ugland House last week, Robertson denied that Cayman law firms’ overseas offices were ‘outsourcing’ work, maintaining that overseas offices were exactly the opposite as they acted as a marketing tool in different jurisdictions to bring work to Cayman. However, he said, those satellite offices needed to be regulated to advance the profession internationally and to separate the real Cayman firms from the equivalent of legal cowboys who advertise practicing Cayman law without any connection to the islands.

The Law Society head said that things had changed in the local legal profession and successful Caymanians were now advancing in the sector, with many local students finding articles with the big firms. He said the new bill could not be about punishing the profession for the wrongs of the past.

The controversy has mounted since the publication of the latest draft, which was formed by local lawyers Theresa Pitcairn, Sherri Bodden-Cowan and Samuel Jackson. There have been accusations made about the draft law being based on sour grapes, not least because Pitcairn has taken issue with her previous firm, Maples and Calder, accusing it of discrimination.

Nevertheless, the issue of discrimination in the profession against local lawyers is an enduring one, and despite the claims by Robertson that the profession is now a meritocracy, complaints of bias persist. Pitcairn is by no means the only Caymanian attorney to highlight the issue.

She and others involved in the creation of this law are hoping to guarantee access to the profession for locals by tying in overseas practice licences to a bigger commitment to promoting and developing local law students in general.

However, Robertson insisted that in order to compete effectively and continue the success of the offshore industry and in turn be in a position to employ more local lawyers, Caymanian firms had to employ the brightest and the best. He said Caymanian lawyers also recognised the importance of meritocracy as it affected them too. He said smart young Caymanian lawyers wanted to be rewarded for hard work and commitment, and did not want to see those who had not worked as hard as them advance simply because of birth right.

Robertson said the profession had real concerns that its membership was not being listened to and that Cayman could end up with a very bad law that would damage the offshore profession. He said he was not scaremongering but there was a very real danger that if government did not get the law right, firms would leave. He added that the profession wanted to make constructive and positive comments on the bill and he hoped that logic and reason would prevail.

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  1. Serena Carducci says:

    0hour app can save your life

  2. JTB says:

    It's interesting that a debate in the profession about the licensing of lawyers practising Cayman Law outside the Cayman Islands is translated in these comments to a debate about discrimination in the legal profession against Caymanians.


    Sorry guys, the secret to a successful financial services sector in Cayman is that it has the respect and, crucially, the confidence of the global financial services industry. That means the law firms have to be staffed by the best people available, You cannot put somebody in charge of a law firm, or a deal, or a case because they are Caymanian. They have to be good enough.


    Anyone who thinks law firms discriminate against Caymanians is arguing against logic. The amount of grief law firms get from immigration is unbelievable. A caymanian partner who was comepetent to hold the job would be worth their weight in gold.


    One final question, Why do the readers of these boards assume that a population of about 30,000 with a very sub-standard education system is ever going to produce even one Caymanian capable of running an offshore law firm?

    • Anonymous says:

      I have to assume that whoever you are, you really are on Theresa and Sherri's side of the debate and writing this nonsense to further their cause!  I honestly hope that you are not one of the sensible lawyers writing from the LS thinking that you are advancing thier cause.  if you are one of the expat lawyers with one of the larger firms you are living proof that there is such a thing as an educated fool!  I suggest that you step away from the type writer and go back to do what your kind does best… secretaries/waitresses and playing golf.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is nonsense, JTB.  There is no question that there is discrimination against Caymanians in the legal field and there are certainly a number of competent Caymanians who have experienced it.

      Your last sentence simply reveals your own bias: because you are Caymanian and from such a small Island you cannot possibly be capable of "running" a law firm. Simply because you come from a much larger country does not mean that you are automatically more competent than a Caymanian. Quite to the contrary, it often means that you were not competent to do well in your home country and therefore came to Cayman.     

      • JTB says:

        I was not having a go at any individual. I was simply making the point that to be a successful financial services professional takes certain skills. Not everyone has those skills. My comment was about the statistical likelihood of a very small population producing people with them.


        The Caymanian legal profession is mainly staffed by lawyers from the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. There are about five times as many qualified practising lawyers in the UK as there are Caymanians living in Cayman. They represent around 0.2% of the population. Of the UK lawyers, those now practising offshore represent around two thirds of one percent.


        Apply those statistics to Cayman and you would expect around 60 qualified lawyers, with none working in offshore finance.


        Obviously you adjust for the fact that financial services is a major sector of the Cayman economy, and some more for the protectionism that (rightly) guarantees Caymanians privileged access to the local profession, but you still arrive at the conclusion that Caymanians are, statistically speaking, heavily over-represented in the local law firms.


        I know that doesn't fit the grievance narrative, of course. But the chopice is, you either have an offshore finance industry staffed with people who are good enough to attract the work here in a very competitive global market, or you don't have an offshore finance industry at all.

        • Anonymous says:

          So why are there entire teams doing purely local high street type work ( nothing to do with OFC work) in local law firms that do not employ a single Caymanian?

        • Anonymous says:

          You are misusing statistics to form conclusions about individual situations and make prejudiced statements like "anyone who thinks law firms discriminate against Caymanians is arguing against logic". Forget about statistics and deal with each person on their individual merit. I know from personal experience that there are quite a number of very competent Caymanian attorneys and also quite a number of expat attorneys who are not nearly as competent but have jobs here nonetheless. There is a built in assumption (which you have expressed in the form of statistics) that if he/she has arrived from the UK, Canada, Australia etc.and talks a good game they must be better than the locals. Sometimes that is not true at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      You will never stop treating Caymanians like non humans untill we have to do what the Bahamas had to do.

      We can see that greed has blinded you all so much that you cannot see the danger untill you have to run again,it will hurt to do what Bahamas did but it looks like it must be done,because you will not stop untill we are slaves in our own country, i really do not think many Caymanians care anymore therein the danger lies i pity you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Alasdair, let us pretend for a moment that a law firm “forgets” to tell immigration about Caymanian applicants for a position, or so misleads the board that it cannot fairly assess the application. The law suggests that is an offence. What does the Law Society say should happen, truth and reconciliation and all that?

    • Albatross says:

      Its already an offence under the Immigration law.  Why does it need to be addressed in this law too?  Why not have it say that its an offence for law firms to commit offences!  Or put it another way, do we need a law for every major industry saying that its an offence to break the Immigration law.  Get over it – f you think law firms are breaking the law, complain and ask the authorities to enforce the law.  If your argument is that they do not enforce existing laws why do you think a new one will make any difference?  SMH.

      • Anonymous says:

        History demonstrates that law firms do not believe the immigration law applies to them. Maybe they can be persuaded that laws designed especially for them do apply to them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Law Society – simple questions to which readers deserve simple answers:

    Does the existing law ban the practise of Cayman Law without a practising certificate?

    Do your membersemploy lawyers who practise Cayman Law without practising certificates?

    Is it ever OK to simply ignore the Law?

    Enquiring minds (and insurers, and government agencies) want to know.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nice comments. Uninformed Scaremongering expats as usual. It js clear from the comments on here the idiots are out in full effect today. go grab a sign and protest somewhere else. Until you read the proposal keep your idiotic comments to yourself. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    About time Caymanians get much need training and firms are held accountable for ensuring that Caymanians are given a fair chance to succeed!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ah, so now the Law Society acknowledges, for the first time ever, that there may have been some past wrongs that this bill seeks to right. Oh dear, the noble and honorable profession is not perfect after all. Good start. Now Mr. Robertson, just how far in the past are these wrongs to which you refer? What do you propose be done to correct them?

    • Official Spokesman says:

      Those from more than 5 years ago are now not relevant with the passage of so much time. Those from this morning to 5 years ago are only now starting to be considered. You can expect our report in about 5 years.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What’s the worry. We ignore existing laws so new ones won’t make much difference.

    • Anonymous says:

      Robertson said the profession had real concerns that its membership was not being listened to and that Cayman could end up with a very bad law that would damage the offshore profession. He said he was not scaremongering but there was a very real danger that if government did not get the law right, firms would leave. He added that the profession wanted to make constructive and positive comments on the bill and he hoped that logic and reason would prevail.

      Scaremongering at its best, firms would leave…. where to??? Bahamas, Bermuda and BVI to practice Cayman Islands Law! 

  9. Tru Tru says:

    You know things must be getting bad in Cayman when certain institutions can no longer buy themselves a loyal politician to advocate on their behalf and now have to use under handing methods and scare tactics on its local help to try to influence these type of situations wow! can you digg it. Looks like this election is going to get some big money players to influence the vote ooooooooh yeah!

    • Anonymous says:

      Those institutions had better buy some lobbiests in the USA and the EU because of sweeping new changes to come in regards to tax havens, tax avoidance and the need for the EU and USA to claw back their tax dollars. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Well ……. they can always apply to BVI and Singapore as watch this space, those jobs they were chasing will be just that little further away in the future.

        • Anonymous says:

          You don’t get it. Caymanians have already been applying for jobs in foreign offices only to have the door to those opportunities slammed in their faces.

        • Anonymous says:

          BVI jobs do you really believe that it's just that easy to get a job in BVI or that the natives will  sit by and let expats flood in and take aways their jobs like Cayman please go ahead and try it, what a rude awakening and as for Singapore they await you with open arms. 

  10. Jurisprudence Duppy says:

    Had it been a certain Law firm who put forward or wrote this revision their would be no complaints. Their would be no need if some had demonstrated a little fairness and balance and equality when they had all the say, now they cry out because things are not going their way, now the powerful try to attack people's character 7 integrity because they are merely trying to right the wrongs and create a little balance in a system that favors the few and as for those of us who curry favor and have lost our way believing you are one the them. Please pray for our children future even if yours is brainwashed and manipulated and you are having an identity crisis what if some had a little integrity all of this could have been avoided. The heathen back dem pan de wall Rising oh fallen fighters rise and fight again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, it does not take long for the racismand xenophobia to bubble through.  Accordingto the poster, Caymanian lawyers who have made it through, heaven forbid, talent and hard work, are really "Uncle Toms" or "oreos" who have only achieved by blindly currying favour with the evil furreinger.  Nonsense.

      • Anonymous says:

        You really do not get it, do you. Not a single Caymanian lawyer has “made it through” for 15 years. Explain that!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Robertson, when you say the Law Society speaks for the profession, could you please be more specific? I am unaware of the Law Society having an election or of the profession any dircect say in it’s stance on anything for many years. Your firm may not be outsourcing Cayman Work, but can that be said of other firms? As for meritocracy, nonsense. It is an old boys club and you know it!

  12. Judge Dredd says:

    There are no gavels in a Cayman court room, nor have there ever been gavels in a Court room in Cayman or England.  Gavels are an Americanism.  The photograph sustains a misconception.

  13. B. Plate says:

    What is happening here is that an entire industry (which employs several thousand well paid Caymanians) is being jeopardised to appease a few disgruntled souls who have failed to make it to the top.

    In the days when Caymanians went to sea not everyone made it onto the bridge. But we look back favourably on those days because they created employment for all levels of ability. One day we will regret the passing of the financial industry for the same reasons.


    • Anonymous says:

      That’s right. Blame the victims. And thousands of Caymanians? Really?

      • P A Rody says:


        There are 25,000 Caymanians, probably two thirds are of working age, unemployment at 10% means about 15,000 working Caymanians, of which around 30% work in the financial sector, so about 4.5 THOUSAND, which even you must realise is thousands…..

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, I think you will find cabinet only gave about 3,000 status grants.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a single soul has made it “to the top” as you describe it, for 15 years. I would love to hear your description of why that happened and what you would expect local people to do about it?

      • Anonymous says:

        I do recall reading about a Caymanian, born and bred, becoming managing partner of one of the largest firms in the jurisdiction in the last few months.  So either you live in a parallel universe or you are full of crap.

        • Anonymous says:

          And he deserves his position, but he was not made a partner by that firm and rather was an existing partner in a local firm which was taken over by an overseas firm.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, and he became a partner about 15 years ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        Look at the first comment and you will know what they think of us,welcome to South Africa,all Caymanians are too dumb to be a good lawyer they are the only one with brains,remember the American Indians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but at least some made it to the bridge!

    • Anonymous says:

      The financial industry is in for a rough ride, many of those firms and comanies will find it most difficult to do business because of the new laws that will come into place from the EU and USA.  Read the latest reports in regards to tax havens and the proposals by the EU.  If the FATF and OECD crippled the banking industry check out what is about to happen.  Very soon Cayman will mourn the passing of the financial industry and it will have absolutely nothing to do with the legal practioners law or the right to practice Cayman Law outside of the Cayman Islands. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    How did we get here?  Perhaps Ms Cowan can explain then why she had provided all of the larger firms including Maples and Walkers Key employee designations for all of their existing lawyers and for future lawyers when she chaired the Board in 2004 (reported in the papers btw CNS) and now all of a sudden there is a problem with discrimination and protecting Caymanians.  Its an election year folks! Whole new set of promises and red herrings. 

    • Nemo says:

      There is no problem of discrimination against Caymanians.  Rather there are Caymanians who cannot accept they are not as good at being a lawyer as they think they are.  I

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, since many of the lawyers everyone is worried about have never had a work permit (or practising certificate for that matter) the liberal awarding of key employee designation ( with some exceptions) is largely a distraction. It is what many of those key employees and their overseas minders went on to do that is the tragedy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I actually recall a Maples partner chairing the most relevant board in much of the relevant period.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Expats drafting a law to protect Caymanians…make sense?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again./.go on guys shove this one through so we can get blasted back to 1970s bahamas style and destroy our financial services industry.

    I wont argue with you on whether this is the right thing to do..i say go ahead and get it done in the name of caymanian protection and then we can chat 2 years afterwards.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here we go scaremongering again, Bahamas is much  better now that it was in the 1970s for the average Bahamian.  Many Bahamians agree that in 1970 when the financial industry migrated to Cayman the country experienced a time of difficulty but it brought about a time of renewal, change in attitude, growth in character, self awareness and preservation.  Bahamians are very proud of who they are and will let you know in a minute that Bahamians rule Bahamas and no one else.  A testimony to this is very few Bahamians live in Cayman and in other caribbean countries and they protect their natives 100%. 

      • Anonymous says:

        And there you have it. For the first time, I’ve heard someone say we’ll be fine if we end up like the Bahamas.

        God help us all.

        • Anonymous says:

          You forgot that it was all for Caymanians first, and Caymanians were happy to share the benefits and opportunities they created with like minded expatriates who they welcomed, with you. You cheated them and your beads and mirrors are no longer enough to hide that fact.

  17. Anonymous says:

    A glass ceiling is what every Caymanian lawyer has to look forward to regardless of how good they are

    • Nemo says:

      Nonsense.  Cayman is full of Caymanian lawyers who have achieved and earned much beyond their talent.

      • Anonymous says:

        And a massive number of expats who have also achieved beyond their wildest dreams. They wouldn’t have the same opportunities in their home country that they do here; many come here because they would not be able to get the salary, advancement and lifestyle they have here. And frankly many of them are okay at best.

      • Anonymous says:

        lol. Actually you could substitute expats for Caymanains in that sentence and it would be perfectly correct. You have got expat managing partners of law firms with 3rd class degrees.    

    • Truth Hurts says:

      That has never been the case. There are excellent Caymanians at the top of this profession.

    • Anonymous says:

      It feels more like a glass floor.

      • Anonymous says:

        You must be one of those expats who claims expertise in something they knew nothing about before arriving in Cayman. Yes, definitiely some glass floors there.

    • Anonymous says:

      And most of them are not that good.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The provenance of the Bill is a joke.  It is like getting a couple of players in the Arena League and a practice squad player in the NFL who never played in the big leagues to write a report on NFL team selection. (Or like Championship journeymen and a Premier League youth squad player who did not make it up to the big team writing about Premier League selection policies if you prefer your balls a different shape).

  19. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone name a case in recent years where a tribunal has found racial discrimination against a law firm?  I use "racial discrimination" to include discrimination against Caymanians?

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be silly. Look who heads the tribunals!

    • Anonymous says:
  20. The draft Bill is exactly what we need says:


    The draft Bill is exactly what we need in the Cayman Islands. Of course the profession don’t want to be regulated for example the Law Society doesn’t have any professional rules at all nothing on conflicts etc. This new Bill may change the way law firms do business and hire attorneys. Where else in the world would you be able to practice law of another jurisdiction in your own jurisdiction and not be regulated… it doesn’t happen.  Sorry the time has come for this wide sweeping and well thought our regulation of attorneys in the Cayman Islands. 

  21. Truth Hurts says:

    But wait – Kiki said he had the agreeement of the profession when he presented the draft bill. How could that possibly not be so?

    • Anonymous says:

      The profession of law agrees, it is the business of law that doesn’t like having to abide by any rules.

  22. Knot S Smart says:

    My great great great grandfather was a slave too – so can I get some compensation?

    Like a job where I only have to talk about the work that I plan to do?

    • Anonymous says:

      My grandma was a victim of the holocaust and she is still getting compensation; so why should not the slaves that were stolen from Africa not be conpensated?  one day even if it takes a thousand years slaves that were stolen from Africa will be compensated.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well since the vast majority of the slaves in that period entered slavery after being captured by Africans, II suggest you take you compensation claims to Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast .

        • Anonymous says:

          Ah, but slave owners in the Americas got centuries of free labour from them. That is where compensation comes in.  

          • Anonymous says:

            For the new breed of blacks compensation won't be sought after,  the new generation will clear themselves of drugs, red cloth, beads, broken mirrors and the mental control of the slave masters such as Whylie Lynch. There will be no need for compensation rather like the rebuilding of the nation of Isreal, we will return to our continent (lands) of origin.

        • Anonymous says:

          History attests to the fact that no African during the slave trade era ever captained a slave ship from Nigeria, Ghana or the Ivory Coast.  Instead many of the collabrators were themselves transported as slaves with the men, women and children that they hunted for the perperators of slavery.  I will leave you with this bit of information just to show you that your trickery will not work forever