Protecting and promoting Caymanians:
The Legal Practitioners Bill includes a remit which is specifically dedicated to the development, training and promotion of Caymanian lawyers.
The remit will also implement sanctions on law firms if they do not meet the new industry requirements. This is something which is absent in the current law.
- It contains provisions that non-Caymanian lawyers cannot be admitted prior to being qualified for four or more years.
- It will allow Caymanian lawyers to be admitted into England and Wales, allowing them to practice in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, providing plenty of opportunities for Caymanians to work overseas.
- The LPB ensures that at least one equity partner in the law firms must be Caymanian
- The LPB will see the formation of a new regulatory body called CILPA, which will have a minimum of 5 Caymanian lawyers on its board at all times.
The Legal Practitioners Bill ensures that the only firms that can practice Cayman law, both here and overseas, are controlled from Cayman. This ensures that there’s not only a consistent connection to Cayman, but that we remain part of an increasing global industry. Any lawyer practising Cayman Islands law (again, only permitted in Cayman-controlled firms) must obtain a practising certificate.
There is also a restriction in place whereby a law firm cannot have more Cayman lawyers outside Cayman than inside. This ensures that there is a substantial connection to Cayman. This is something we have been trying to establish for over 20 years.
Foreign offices also generate a significant amount of revenue directly to the Cayman Islands Government (US$32m plus) and with the right structure in place, this will continue to grow.
Complaints and disciplines:
The LPB will see, for the first time in Cayman, a comprehensive complaints and discipline structure put in place. The Bill will include proper procedures and penalties for complaints and misconduct.
In addition, the new law will bring the industry in line with current global regulatory standards, which is vital to protect the law professional and wider financial services industry.
The LPB encourages Caymanian participation, ensuring that at least one partner at each law firm is Caymanian. There’s also a requirement for law firms to state specifically what the promotion of a non-Caymanian to partner would have on Caymanians.
Each law firm has their own structure in place when it comes to partners and equity partners. We believe that there are around 10 current equity partners that you would call ‘native Caymanians’. Of course there are several past equity partners as well, including the late Frank Banks, Wayne Panton and Truman Bodden.
The path to becoming an equity partner is a long road. It takes around 20 years to become an equity partner and there are around 20 Caymanian partners that are currently on the path to achieving this. Of course, there are many others who choose to become sole practitioners, open small firms, are in-house counsel, or choose other career paths, such as in the public sector, or in politics.
Benefits to the financial services industry:
The legal profession is a huge driver of the financial services industry which, through providing around 50% of Government revenue, helps pay for schools, emergency services, social services, infrastructure etc.
The financial services industry employs over 4,000 Caymanians.
The Bill is designed to secure the future of the legal profession and by extension, the financial services industry and is therefore, important to everyone in the country.