(CMR) The government announced today that the Legal Services Bill, 2020 will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly shortly and is now out for public consultation. However, critics in the Cayman Islands legal profession are saying this is not more than the previously failed 2016 Legal Practitioner's Bill.
The bill has been an ongoing issue for almost 19 years with Caymanian attorneys sharing that it does not go far enough to protect them and if passed would actually allow persons practicing Cayman law overseas full blessings of the law. Previously they were fined a paltry $200.
The bill failed miserably in 2016 after the then PPM government was unable to successfully get it passed. Admitting that the current 16-page bill is woefully outdated concerns remain that this government is unable to get the support of the Caymanian attorneys but instead caters to the large law firms. One observer noted that even attorneys in those large law firms quietly oppose the bill but unfortunately are unable to publicly speak out on the matter.
Back in 2016 Pmerier Hon. Alden McLaughlin shared that:
“At least four government administrations have tackled this legislation I know that the failure to pass this legislation has been damaging to us not only as a jurisdiction but also to the interests of Caymanian lawyers. I am therefore delighted that we will be able to present the bill to the Legislative Assembly at the upcoming meeting.”
At the time it was shared that the creation of the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association (CILPA) is one of the bill's key features. CILPA would be a self-regulatory body of eight attorneys-at-law who are ordinarily resident in Cayman, and who practice Cayman Islands law in Cayman. At least five of these must be Caymanian and of those five, at least three must have qualified locally.
Despite the fact that the bill did not pass CILPA was created and is now the subject of several lawsuits brought against the Cayman Islands Government.
CMR recently addressed the lawsuits in a podcast show.
Now Cabinet has announced that they have approved the Legal Services Bill, 2020 (the “Bill”) which has been submitted to the Legislative Assembly to be dealt with at the next meeting subject to the Bill having a 28-day public consultation period.
The Bill was gazetted Tuesday, 27 October 2020 in Legislation Gazette No. 79 of 2020.
The Bill is aimed at modernizing how the legal profession in the Cayman Islands is regulated.
The practice of law in the Cayman Islands is currently regulated by the Legal Practitioners Law (2015 Revision) that was first enacted in 1969, over half a century ago.
Although there have been numerous amendments over the years to the Legal Practitioners Law (2015 Revision) to reflect the evolution of the practice of law in and from the Cayman Islands, the fact is that the current framework is inadequate to regulate the contemporary nature of 21st-century legal profession operating in the Cayman Islands with a significant international component.
The number of attorneys and the nature of law practice in the Cayman Islands have changed significantly over the decades to the point of rendering the current Legal Practitioners Law almost obsolete, hence the need for a new Law.
In order to assist the general public to better understand the provisions of the Bill, an Executive Summary explaining each clause of the Bill has been published as supplement 1 of Extraordinary Gazette No 89, today Wednesday, 28 October 2020.
Comments on the Bill should be submitted to Ms. Tesia Scott via email in the Government Administration Building, Portfolio of Legal Affairs.
The deadline for submission of comments is 24 November 2020.