States to vote on introducing minimum standards for lawyers

LAWYERS are the latest professionals facing a new set of minimum standards in a bid to prevent criminals controlling businesses.

 Royal Court, St James Street. (32186728)
Royal Court, St James Street. (32186728)

The States recently approved minimum standards for estate agents and tax and accountancy firms, and law firms will be next if proposals from the Policy & Resources Committee are approved by the States this summer.

P&R said it was aware the Guernsey Bar was already carrying out a review which could lead to a revised system of professional oversight for lawyers and deal with an existing gap in regulation.

In the meantime, it is proposing a new minimum standards test for those who own or control law firms, to ensure the island meets international standards of the Financial Action Task Force.

‘In broad terms, it is envisaged that, in determining whether a person meets the minimum standards test, regard should be had to their probity, integrity, honesty and soundness of judgement for holding the position, and whether the interests of the public or the reputation of the Bailiwick are, or are likely to be, in any way jeopardised by their holding the position,’ said P&R.

The minimum standards test would apply to anyone who owned, or had beneficial ownership of, 15% or more of a law firm or 15% or more of voting power.

P&R said a new law would also require anyone working for a law firm in the Bailiwick to be appropriately qualified, but more work was needed on how this would be implemented.

A minimum standards test would be applied by HM Greffier with any failure referred to the Chambre de Discipline.

The Guernsey Registry would be responsible for administering the new statutory regime for controllers and managers of law firms who are not Guernsey advocates, a role it already fulfils for estate agents and tax/accountancy firms.

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