No special law firm privileges

The Cayman Islands government will not grant special privileges to certain law firms with respect to the term limit for foreign workers.

Speaking at the Cabinet press briefing last Friday, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts refuted a suggestion that some of the major law firms had written to the government requesting all of the professional staffs be granted Key Employee Status.

However, Mr. Tibbetts did acknowledge that a letter had indeed been written to the government.

‘We received joint correspondence from representatives of four of the major law firms, but it was not requesting exemptions for all of their employees,’ he said.

The letter was reportedly signed by the Managing Partners of Maples and Calder; Walkers; Appleby Hunter Bailhache; and Ogier.

Mr. Tibbetts said the government would meet with representatives of the four law firms.

‘As is our style, we will be meeting with them shortly,’ he said. ‘We are not adverse to any discussion that they may wish to put forward. But suffice it to say, the [Immigration Law amendments] are already approved.’

Although Mr. Tibbetts did not say what the agenda of the meeting was, he did say what it was not.

‘They are not meeting with us with the idea that they are going to change policies,’ he said, adding that they group was not asking for special considerations for their own firms.

‘There will be no tier system for the major law firms,’ Mr. Tibbetts made clear in any case.

Appleby Managing Director Huw Moses confirmed that he was a signatory to the letter, which he said was intended to be a private correspondence with Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson. The letter was copied to several other people in government.

Mr. Moses said the content of the letter had been ‘significantly distorted’ from what had been suggested in a letter to the editor of the Caymanian Compass last week.

‘What we are looking for is simply to open a dialogue on our concerns,’ he said. ‘Some [of the concerns] may be misplaced.

Mr. Moses said supposed to provide a basis for discussion.

‘It was intended to help,’ he said. ‘It was not supposed to be provocative or controversial and we weren’t asking for any special considerations or anything of that sort.

Although he would not discuss the exact contents of the letter, Mr. Moses said it generally dealt with making sure the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction remained competitive and the mechanisms by which that could happen.

‘Some things give rise to our concerns,’ he said. ‘We want to make sure we don’t kill the golden goose inadvertently.’

Mr. Moses said the group was not trying to change government policy. He also said the content of the letter was entirely consistent with what was put forward by the Cayman Bar Association and the Cayman Law Society during the consultative period before the Immigration Law amendments were passed in December.