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Politicians To Pow-Wow Over Lawyers’ Law

Politicians To Pow-Wow Over Lawyers’ Law

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman (CNS) -- The premier has extended an olive branch to the opposition benches and asked them to sit down in private on Monday to try and reach consensus on the key provisions of the Legal Practitioners Bill before resuming the debate on the law in parliament on Tuesday, and he said all members had agreed.

The proposed amendments to the existing lawyers’ law has caused increasing controversy over the last few weeks, as independent opposition members have railed against the government and the local legal profession, making increasingly wilder allegations in relation to it.

These include claims that law firms hired private eyes to follow MLAs to discredit and intimidate them, and that the financial services minister cannot present the bill because he is part owner of a law firm building and therefore conflicted.

With such accusations flying, the independent members on the opposition benches have become increasingly enraged about the possibility that the law will pass.

Although Premier Alden McLaughlin has enough MLAs on the government benches to force the law through without regard to the concerns raised, he is trying to get consensus so that the bill can be passed with support across the parliamentary floor. In a short comment Friday evening, he said that the debate in the LA Thursday by the members currently opposed to the law demonstrated that most members share the main objectives government has for wanting this legislation to pass.

“My objective is to succeed where two previous administrations have failed by giving the Cayman Islands a modern legal practitioners law. This must be a law that regulates the legal profession, supports and promotes the wide range of legal services provided by Cayman practitioners and encourages employment, training and opportunities for advancement of Caymanian attorneys,” he said. “Following the debate by most members of the opposition yesterday, it now appears that all members of the House, government, official opposition and independent opposition share this objective.”

Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton began presenting the bill Wednesday afternoon, and as he outlined the intentions of the bill, he said he was seeking “to defy the odds which have prevented for many years the critically important bill relating to the modernisation of the practice of Cayman Islands law”.

He said it was meant to regulate the practice of Cayman law, wherever it is practiced and to create fair opportunities for Cayman lawyers.

The three main goals are to create a modern platform of regulations so Cayman can fall in line with international standards and get through the review by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) later this year, to tackle the problem of the law being practiced overseas without oversight, and help in the development of local attorneys and put an end to inequities and discrimination.

Panton went into great detail about the law but also made it clear that this is not a one-time deal that will last forever; if the fears some people have that it is not going to solve all the problems are realized, it can be amended like any other piece of legislation.