A record number of attendees at the 8th annual Caribbean Commercial Law Workshop spells good news for the continued development of the growing Caribbean legal community engaged in commercial law.
That was the loud and clear message workshop organizer Harris Wineberg, formerly with the University of the West Indies Law School in Barbados, garnered from of the 200-plus delegates and speakers, who made the trip to Grand Cayman recently.
The continuing education event, attended by commercial law professionals who ranged from fresh graduates to seasoned veterans, was held 20-22 August at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Participants from the Cayman Islands, as well as Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Anguilla, St Lucia, Nevis & St Kitts, Guyana, Antigua, Bahamas, Suriname, the United States, Grenada, and Canada heard about emerging legal issues impacting the Caribbean over the course of the workshop.
The event kicked off with a reception on Sunday evening, and formal proceedings opened with welcome remarks from Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie on Monday morning.
He challenged delegates to make use of the region’s framework of stable governments, far-sighted regulators, carefully crafted laws, first world telecommunications and international banking connections to attract an equitable share of global business.
‘Forced to compete on unlevel playing fields, we have been subjected to inspection after inspection and threats of blacklisting by powerful external agencies in their zealous bureaucratic quest to retain control of what they deem to be their capital, even while that same capital must be free to exploit all the benefits of globalization,’ he said.
He said the stigma attached to the region will be difficult to overcome without much hard work and stringent legal enforcement.
‘It will therefore continue to be part of your mission as the practitioners, to establish the acceptance of that truth. . ,’ he told delegates.
On the comprehensive agenda was an overview of various financial services and commercial trusts delegates would be encountering through the course of their work in commercial law, including hedge and mutual funds, securitization, unit and SPV trusts, as well as project and capital markets financing.
The challenges facing offshore financial regulators were examined in an engaging lunchtime address Monday by CIMA legal counsel and Law Reform Commission Chair Langston Sibblies.
He elaborated on Chief Justice Smellie’s remarks by saying that despite massive compliance efforts, local regulators still face more regulatory reviews than their onshore counterparts.
‘It is quite time consuming and resource intensive to be constantly engaged in discussions with representatives of some G7 jurisdictions when they choose to blatantly ignore factual information and continue to rely on negative stereotypical perceptions about the Cayman Islands,’ he said.
At the same time, he said the high level of scrutiny has allowed the Cayman Islands to better anticipate and identify more clearly vulnerabilities to more ably meet the demands of reviewers than many other jurisdictions.
Another session covering the hot topic of corporate governance in Caribbean commercial law saw a dozen speakers providing insightful comments on its implications on various sectors.
The workshop concluded with a fascinating look into the legal challenges of protecting official sponsorship rights, threatened by what is known as ambush marketing, at the upcoming Cricket World Cup, presented by the event’s senior legal counsel Derek Jones.