The following are the most common ways to qualify as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands.
The last stage of training involves 18 months of articles with a practicing attorney-at-law. The attorney-at-law responsible for training must have been an attorney-at-law in continuous practice as a legal practitioner in any Court in the Commonwealth for a period of at least 5 years (2 of which must have been in the Cayman Islands).
Articled clerks must be registered with the Clerk of the Court after a certificate has been obtained, signifying satisfaction that the articled clerk has received adequate legal training. Only persons who are Caymanian or are otherwise approved by the Cayman Islands cabinet (for example a person married to a Caymanian) are eligible for articles in the Cayman Islands. NB. Reg 16 of the Regulations limits entry to Caymanians or to people with the written consent of the Governor.
Securing articles is the articled clerk’s responsibility and it is advisable to apply at an early stage, as places are in demand, competitive and by no means assured. Applications to law firms should be made in the last year of an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) programme. For those who have not studied a law degree it is advisable to apply before commencing the CPE/GDL (Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies).
Once you have completed a law degree (LLB) or a non-law degree in conjunction with the CPE/GDL, you must undergo a period of vocational training by completing the Professional Practise Course (“PPC”) or its equivalent (the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) in the United Kingdom).
Note: The Legal Practitioners (Students) Regulations (2012 Revision) limits access to the PPC (Reg. 27 relating to the Qualifying Examination taken by the PPC student) and articles (Reg. 16) to Caymanians or persons that hold Cayman Status or as otherwise approved by the Cayman Islands Cabinet (for example a person married to a Caymanian). NB. Reg 27 of the Regulations limit entry to Caymanian status holders or people with written consent from the Governor.
The PPC is one year in duration and comprised of an intensive full-time 9 month period of study in Cayman law and procedure. Courses studied include, but are not limited to: Cayman Statute Law; Criminal Procedure and Evidence; Civil Procedure and Evidence; Conveyancing; Cayman Succession Law; Legal Accounts; Legal Ethics; and Legal Skills. A dissertation must also be successfully completed which focuses on an area of local law or procedure.
Applications and information about the PPC are available from the University of Liverpool website (www.liv.ac.uk/law/cils/). Details about the Legal Practice Course can be found at www.lawsoc.org. Details about the Bar Vocational Course can be found at www.barcouncil.org.uk.
If you have already received an honours degree in a course other than law, you may be eligible for a conversion course in law such as the CPE, or as more recently called, the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies GDL. While these courses are not taught by the Cayman Islands Law School, they are taught in the United Kingdom through various course providers.
The CPE/GDL is an intensive programme and requires great dedication and discipline to cover the seven core law subjects (Contract, Criminal, Tort, Equity and Trusts, Administrative and Constitutional Law, European Union Law, and Land Law) within the span of 12 months. Some course providers do, however, offer the course over a period of 2 years on a part-time basis.
Applications and information about the CPE/GDL are available from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (www.sra.org.uk/students/conversion-courses.page).
The minimum requirements for applying to the Cayman Islands Law School are that the applicant be at least 18 years of age and have achieved the requisite “standard of general education”.
Standard of General Education Required – any one of the following:
- Passes in at least five approved subjects, three of which are at a Grade C or above at Ordinary ‘O’ Level and two of which are at Advanced ‘A’ Level;
- Obtains an associate degree with a GPA (Grade Point Average) which, in the opinion of the Legal Advisory Council, are equivalent to No. 1 above;
- Obtains SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores which, in the opinion of the Legal Advisory Council, are equivalent to No. 1 above;
- If 21 years or older, passes the University of Liverpool’s Mature Students Entrance Examination.
- Obtained an educational standard (e.g. evidenced by performance or otherwise) which is certified by the Chief Education Officer (see schedule 2 (4)).
For a more detailed explanation please refer to Schedule 2 of the Regulations.
Applications and information about the LLB are available from the Cayman Islands Law School (www.lawschool.gov.ky/).
There are many institutions, other than the Cayman Islands Law School, which offer equivalent law degrees. However, if you decide to pursue a degree in law from another institution, check that it is a qualifying course which covers the subjects as outlined in Part III of the Regulations. Should you have any queries, please contact the Director (Mitchell Davies – firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Cayman Islands Law School or the Legal Advisory Council.
Relevant only for foreign counsel wishing to appear in Court as an advocate in a particular case or cases. An application for limited admission may be made under section 4(1) of the Law to a judge of the Grand Court, who has power to admit to practise as an attorney-at-law such person who has been instructed, among other things, by an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands.
A person qualified in the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth jurisdiction is entitled to practise for the purpose of the suit or matter concerned but not otherwise. If limited admission is granted there is no requirement that such person pay the annual practising fee or be enrolled on the Court Roll.
If you are not Caymanian and do not hold Cayman Status or its equivalent, you may be eligible for admission to practice law if qualified in:
- The United Kingdom;
- Jamaica; or
- Certain Commonwealth jurisdictions that have been recognised as being equivalent, for example Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
In order to join the profession here you must first have obtained an offer of employment from a firm in the Cayman Islands. You must also have been issued a work permit under Part V of the Immigration Law, as amended. Furthermore, as a matter of policy, you must also have at least three years’ post-qualification experience at the time the application for the work permit is made.
The Law and the Regulations govern all aspects of training and qualifying as an attorney-at-law.
Unlike the Law Society of England and Wales, the Law Society is not responsible for, and has no control over, the process of admitting persons to practise law in the Cayman Islands.
Regulation 3 and regulation 4 of the Regulations empower the Cayman Islands Law School, acting through the Legal Advisory Council, to provide a system of legal education, which includes examinations leading to a law degree and to an Attorney-at-Law Certificate. The Legal Advisory Council is comprised of: the Chief Justice; the Attorney General; the President of the Law Society; and the President of the Caymanian Bar Association.
The admission process is governed under section 3(1) of the Law where a judge of the Grand Court is responsible for hearing applications from eligible candidates for admission to practise law.