A controversial provision within the Cayman Islands’ Legal Practitioners Bill that referred to ‘disloyalty to the islands’ has quietly been removed from the latest draft of the document.
The bill is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly later this year.
The previous section of the Code of Conduct contained within the Legal Practitioners Bill, which drew public criticism from some local legal circles read, ‘No client is entitled to receive nor should any attorney-at-law render any service or advice involving disloyalty to the islands or disrespect for judicial office or the corruption of any persons exercising a public or private trust or deception or betrayal of the public.’
The phrase ‘disloyalty to the islands’ was never defined in the bill. Repeated attempts by the Caymanian Compass to contact the Cayman Islands Solicitor General, Attorney General and Chief Justice about the issue did not meet with success.
Both the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association and the Cayman Islands Law Society expressed concerns about the provision.
A statement from the defence bar said the disloyalty phrase ‘could have the effect of creating a perception of a limitation on the freedom of a legal practitioner to act in accordance with (their) duties.’
The law society expressed a general concern about the Code of Conduct within the Legal Practitioners Bill, and stated the code was not suitable for today’s modern Cayman Islands legal profession.
The criminal offences of treason, sedition, official corruption, and acts of disrespect to any judicial proceeding of the judiciary already exist in the Cayman Islands Penal Code.
It was never clear what ‘disloyalty to the islands’ in the practice of law outside what is already defined in the Penal Code would have entailed.
The latest draft of the Legal Practitioners Bill is being circulated among stakeholders and further comments are being submitted. After the consultation is complete, the bill will go to Cabinet for review. It will require a vote of the full Legislative Assembly before being passed into law.