Curtis Dickinson on Internatio
New rules for international legal firms
International legal firms who set up in Bermuda will need Bermudian lawyers to tackle cases that involve island law under conditions proposed by the Government.
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly on Friday that the Government would continue efforts to “liberalise” Bermuda’s legal sector for overseas firms.
But he said the new rules would include measures to protect jobs for home-grown lawyers.
Mr Dickinson explained that the Government believed that international law firms in Bermuda would “generally benefit” the economy and employment prospects for Bermudians.
He said the Government had completed a consultation process and the proposal was supported by the Bermuda Business Development Agency. However, several Bermudian law firms and lawyers had raised objections.
Mr Dickinson said: “The grounds of objections were that international law firms would be damaging to existing law firms and that they may simply open a ‘front’ in Bermuda by engaging the services of a figurehead Bermudian.”
But Mr Dickinson said the proposals would mean any legal matters that involved Bermuda law and originated in Bermuda must be undertaken in Bermuda and could not be referred to lawyers and paralegals in another jurisdiction to be “rubber stamped” in Bermuda.
International law firms would also be required to employ Bermudians “at all levels” and provide scholarships to Bermudian law students.
Mr Dickinson added that law firms would also need to create a five-year plan to show they intended to increase revenue from offshore work, as well as a “diversity and inclusion plan” for management positions that reflected Bermuda’s cultural composition.
He said: “The Government is confident that this policy to relax the law firm market and open it up to international firms, along with the above mentioned licence conditions, strikes the correct balance between stimulating additional investment in Bermuda and providing opportunities for Bermudian lawyers and preserving the interests of Bermudians.”
• To read Curtis Dickinson’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”