Registration begins for Cayman law firms

The hard work of registering Cayman’s many disparate law firms has begun.

The Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association has established a separate board – the Cayman Attorneys Regulation Authority – to supervise law firms in the jurisdiction.

The CARA board comprises individuals with regulatory, legal, government and law enforcement backgrounds, and will make sure all local firms are complying with the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations of 2018. All firms – including sole practitioners – that are ‘Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professionals’ are required to register at some point in August.

CILPA and CARA are endeavouring to make sure that local firms are in compliance with directives issued by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

Hugo Lodge, a partner at Maples and an interim board member of CARA, said the regulation is designed to make sure all firms are on the same page.

“Cayman is responding positively to the recent CFATF report, and as attorneys we have our role to play,” said Lodge of the CARA registration process. “It is vital for each firm and sole practitioner to return a form before the end of August. This will have registration details, so that the new regulator knows how to contact lawyers on island to offer guidance and provide supervision.

“The other key element is to inform our risk assessment. … We appreciate that attorneys are busy people, but this is a time for us all to work together for the greater good standing of Cayman.”

CILPA has 546 members, which accounts for about 80% of Cayman’s practicing attorneys.

Cayman was placed under a one-year observation period by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force as a result of an evaluation report conducted in March of 2019. CARA is a reaction to that report, and attorneys are required to register as part of a larger effort to restore faith in firms at home and abroad.

“Ensuring that all firms of attorneys are registered with CARA is an essential step towards demonstrating to the international community that Cayman has made substantial and sufficient progress to supervise firms of attorneys (including sole practitioners) for anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing and anti-proliferation financing purposes,” said Kendra Foster, a founding principal at U Law and head of CILPA’s CFATF Sub-Committee. “We are committed to creating an effective supervisory framework for the benefit all legal practitioners in the Cayman Islands and the financial services industry as a whole.”

Details about CARA can be found at https://cilpa.ky/resources/.