Laws must be timely, attorney says

If Cayman is to keep its position as a leading offshore financial jurisdiction, it is imperative that appropriate legislation is enacted in a timely fashion, Law Society president Charles Quin said Wednesday.

Charles Quin

Charles Quin

‘There are many other jurisdictions who are working hard to replace us as the favoured jurisdiction of choice. We cannot be complacent.’

Mr. Quin was speaking to over 130 people gathered for the opening of the Grand Court for 2008. Following a ceremony on the steps of the Law Courts Building, judges, magistrates, court staff, attorneys and guests filled Court One. There was standing room only and several attorneys drew smiles when they chose to sit in the dock.

The Law Society president traditionally seconds the motion, moved by the Attorney General, for the court opening. Mr. Quin offered Chief Justice Anthony Smellie the apologies of Attorney Wayne Panton, chairman of the Caymanian Bar Association, who was unavoidably detained.

Mr. Quin said he was pleased, however, that on a number of important issues, the Law Society and the Bar Association have spoken with one voice.

Calling 2007 a year of significant development in the legal community, he said the Law Society welcomed the continuing excellent working relationship between the government and the private sector. This was one of the most important factors in the success of the Cayman Islands.

As a result of this close relationship the Law Society had provided the Attorney General commentaries on various bills, including the Residential Tenancies Bill, Freedom of information Bill and, most importantly, the Legal Practitioners’ Bill.

In the society’s view, the most significant legislation to be enacted in 2008 will be the Legal Practitioners Bill, on which members had worked closely with the Bar Association. He noted that a draft code of conduct had been submitted with the approval of both professional bodies. Members urged that any amendments to the code not delay the passage of the Legal Practitioners Bill ‘which we see as being central to the continue success of the profession.’

The introduction of more and often increasingly involved legislation reflects the ever increasing complexity of the offshore financial industry, Mr. Quin said.

‘Many of our members are involved in creating the most sophisticated offshore structures and where those structures or others fall into difficulty our members are at the cutting edge of the consequential litigation. It follows that where our members’ expertise and experience is tapped into, we can continue to assist the government with preparing the necessary high quality legislation to keep the Cayman Islands the market leaders,’ he said.

Members looked forward to assisting in 2008, especially with respect to proposed changes to the Companies Law, the Exempted Limited Partnerships Law, the controlled subsidiary provisions of the Banks and Trust Companies Law and the update of the Retail Mutual Funds (Japan Regulations).

The Law Society welcomed the formation of the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association in October 2007. This group will have constructive comments on criminal justice bills, legal aid and other matters, intended to assist the judges and court staff and increase the efficiency of the criminal justice system. He congratulated members of this new association, along with Chairman John Furniss and Vice-Chairman Lloyd Samson, ‘two of our most experienced practitioners’.

Mr. Quin thanked the Chief Justice for taking time to hold constructive meetings on the proposed Commercial Division of the Grand Court and the recent introduction of increased court fees for the Grand Court registry.

Law Society sub-committees have produced reports on both topics and Mr. Quin said there might be some disagreement as to the way ahead. ‘However, the Law Society provides this input in a genuine effort to ensure that the administration of justice continues to function in the most professional and efficient manner allowing all litigants access to our Courts.

‘I think it is right to note that whatever disagreements there may be, the Law Society properly recognises that all parties are working towards creating an environment for the most efficient administration of justice, a goal which becomes increasingly difficult in this modern age,’ Mr. Quin observed.