Government has gazetted a Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill to make membership in the Legal Practitioners Association mandatory for anti-money laundering purposes.
About 80% of lawyers are currently members of the association.
The bill proposes to insert a clause in the Legal Practitioners Law stipulating that every attorney who is issued with a practising certificate “shall be deemed to be a member of the Association for the purpose of enabling the Association to carry out its duties as Supervisory Authority”.
Another new clause directs the clerk of the court within 14 days to provide the secretary of the Legal Practitioners Association the names of attorneys who have been added to or deleted from the court roll.
An assessment of Cayman’s anti-money laundering regime released in March of this year included criticism that lawyers remained unsupervised and only had “a rudimentary understanding” of their money-laundering and terrorism-financing risks.
It noted that lawyers, especially those not affiliated with trust or corporate-services providers, should be supervised for AML/CFT compliance. Cayman was placed under a one-year observation period by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force as a result of the report.
When the evaluation was carried out in December 2017, no supervisory authority for lawyers had been named.
Since then, the Cayman Islands Law Society and the Caymanian Bar Association merged to form the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association, the new representative body for the legal industry.
The association then became the designated supervisory body for law firms and sole practitioners with respect to anti-money laundering and the countering of terrorism financing.
The Legal Practitioners Association established a separate board – the Cayman Attorneys Regulation Authority – to supervise lawyers in the jurisdiction.
Under Cayman’s anti-money laundering regulations, lawyers are ‘Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professionals’ and had to register with the board in August.