Law Society slams ‘damaging speculation’

The Cayman Islands Law Society has called for an end to “damaging speculation” from independent politicians who claimed this week they believed local law firms had hired private investigators to follow them.

Both Winston Connolly and Al Suckoo, in personal statements in the Legislative Assembly, suggested they were being tracked by investigators because of their opposition to the controversial Legal Practitioner’s Bill.

Mr. Suckoo said the independent members had been “reliably informed” that three individuals, posing as visitors and driving rental cars, were on island to investigate the independent members. He called for a police investigation.

A Royal Cayman Islands Police Service spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that a complaint had been received and was being investigated.

The Cayman Islands Law Society issued a statement Tuesday condemning the comments from the independent members and calling for an end to the “speculation.”

“The Cayman Islands Law Society, as the professional association that represents the entire legal profession in the Cayman Islands, notes that this type of allegation is a very serious matter on which to speculate. Such speculation, without proof, is incredibly damaging to the reputation of the profession, the financial services industry and the jurisdiction as a whole.

“Attorneys are officers of the court and their profession requires them to act with complete integrity. The Cayman Islands has robust law enforcement, intolerance for unethical behaviours and a reputation for consistently upholding good governance and transparency.

“The Cayman Islands Law Society condemns any breaches of law and unethical behaviour.

“We ask all parties to refrain from further speculation and let the appropriate authorities handle this matter, should a formal complaint be made.”

Mr. Suckoo, speaking in the Assembly on Monday, said he believed the legislators and their families were at risk because of their opposition to the Legal Practitioners Bill.

He said, “As a matter of national importance I am therefore requesting that this matter be immediately investigated by the RCIPS, Attorney General’s office and the Immigration department as the actions of these individuals and their clients is a direct threat to the safety and well-being of members of this Honorable Assembly and our families and may constitute the breach of several laws including the Immigration Law.

“We ask that the proper authorities take any and all legally permissible actions to apprehend and question these individuals, and that immediate steps be taken to ensure the safety and protection of all members of the Legislative Assembly.”

Mr. Connolly made similar claims in a statement to the house earlier on Monday suggesting he believed private investigators had been hired to follow him. Mr. McLean later made similar claims at a press conference hosted by the independent members, also involving East End MLA Ezzard Miller and Bodden Town legislator Anthony Eden.

The controversy follows the tabling of a private members’ motion by Mr. McLean, seconded by Mr. Connolly, accusing Cayman Islands law firms of “intentionally ignoring and deliberately circumventing” both the existing Legal Practitioners Law and Immigration Law.

The motion suggests law firms have engaged in criminal behavior by practicing Cayman Islands law outside the jurisdiction through their international offices, and are now seeking to legitimize the practice through their support of a new version of the bill.

Minister for Financial Services Wayne Panton who, as a former partner at Walkers law firm is accused in the motion of a conflict of interest in pushing the bill, said the legislators had misunderstood the current legislation.

Describing the motion as “grossly irresponsible,” he said “This motion is an attack on our financial services industry and an example of personal political agendas being placed ahead of the interests of thousands of Caymanians in the industry and, in fact, given the significance to our economy, the interests of the country as a whole.”