Lawyers still at odds over practitioner’s bill

| 16/01/2014

(CNS): The continued failure to agree on a modernised law to regulate the legal profession was once again on the agenda at the annual opening of the Grand Court on Wednesday, where the two bodies representing lawyers still appeared to be at odds. While the issue was not as prominent in the speeches as last year, as there seems to be some faith that the new administration may be able to tackle the ongoing issue, the Cayman Bar Association (CBA) and the Cayman Islands Law Society still have conflicting views over the proposed legislation. CBA President Dale Crowley said the continued failure to enact the legislation had resulted in more and more attorneys outside Cayman professing to practice Cayman Islands law, despite having no connections to the islands.

The law, he said, had to offer protection for Caymanian attorneys.However, Alasdair Robertson, the president of the Law Society, said the law had to be about the regulation of the profession and nothing more.

During his speech, the leader of the CBA, which represents 160 Caymanian attorneys and another 80 students and law graduates seeking a chance to enter the profession, said it was unfortunate that the profession had been unsuccessful again last year in the push for the implementation of a modernised Legal Practitioners Law in line with international standards.

"In the absence thereof, the number of overseas practitioners holding themselves out as practicing Cayman Islands law, notwithstanding having no connection whatsoever to the Islands, continues to grow unchecked and unabated,” Crowley said. “The Association remains committed to ensuring that any such legislation affords suitable protection for the recruitment, training and development of Caymanians within the profession and provides proper progression planning, including a commitment to promote Caymanians into true equity positions within local firms.”

However, his colleague from the Law Society, which represents more than 500 attorneys practicing here, said that while they too were keen to see the law enacted and continued to work hard on finding a solution, the law had to be a simple modern piece of legislation which was about the regulation of the profession. Although Robertson said he agreed with all of what Crowley had said in his speech he pointed for the need for the law to focus on regulating the profession. He said while everyone hoped that the 600 or more attorneys in Cayman would behave properly, there had to be a system in place that made sure they did. He said it was the duty of lawyers not to look after their own but the entire profession.

The proposed law continues to cause controversy as local attorneys and MLAs remain disposed to using the law to eliminate the discrimination that appears to still linger in the profession. Caymanian lawyers believe the law must include better protections and channels for advancement for locals, while the wider profession is seeking a way to regulate the overseas practitioners without necessarily tying their hands locally on recruitment practices.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The CBA does no good for the nation, the economy or the provision of legal services.  It seems to function to maximise the income of its members.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad but true. It has become an extension of the Law Society and seems to have no concern for the abuses openly happening all around.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank god there is the Law Society to curb the craziness of the CBA.

        • Anonymous says:

          LOL. Not sure which planet you are on. Both associations are run by the partners of the same firm and they march in lock-step these days. If the CBA is crazy so is the Law Society.

          • Anonymous says:

            The REAL Law Society is based in the UK and governs the actions of all its members.

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS this report is not accurate.  The CBA and CILS have never said they have different positions.  Regulation of profession includes the regulation of overseas lawyers.  

    • Anonymous says:

      The CILS seem very happy to keep regulation as it is. Non existent, whether locally or overseas. Sure, various laws including those relating to work permits and licensing are supposed to regulate lawyers but hey – who cares as long as none of them are ever enforced.

      • Anonymous says:

        The CILS has to pander to the whims of the CBA while doing what it can to ensure that the core product of legal services was not too diluted.  If the CBA had its way Cayman would lose a vast amount of business.

        • Anonymous says:

          Are those so called “whims” to which you refer, a request that the laws of the land be followed?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is that the CBA moaning for a change?

  4. Cayman Concern says:

    I know prominent lawyers who skirted the Immigration law to hire expat assistants when qualified locals were passed over. Lawyers skirting any law should be kicked out. It is the law we need to respect and shameful when those committed to upholding laws break them. DD

    • Anonymous says:

      And in other made news a tooth fairy got stuck in a window in West Bay last night and had to be freed with the assistance of some local pixies.

    • Anonymous says:

      If by skirt you mean break, agreed. If by skirt you mean skirt, ie edge round, disagreed. There's nothing unlawful in edging round the law, provided you don't break it. That's what Cayman has thrivedon for decades.

      • Anonymous says:

        Officers of the Court don't skirt in their own affairs. Nor do they mislead, lie to, cajole, or defraud regulators. They are open and honest in their dealings. Some lawyers on the other hand …

    • Anonymous says:

      I know them too.  In real countries people that act like that are prosecuted for fraud and imprisoned. Just ask the Indian Diplomat who was facing 10 years in prison for lying to US immigration over a housekeeper's salary. How can anyone call it an honorable profession, or suggest we have the rule of law, when even leading lawyers openly operate outside it for years with absolute impunity, even when their actions are known to regulators?

      • Anonymous says:

        How? Incompetence, Corruption, Neglect, take your pick. Each seems as likely as the other at this stage.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some people have higher demands of their employees than just being "qualified".  It is pretty simple to become a qualified attorney.  Being qualified does not mean you can do the job well.

      • Anonymous says:

        The poster is talking about assistants – not junior lawyers, but even if they were you would be ignoring the artificial cultural factors that rule decisions today and have little to do with ability.