A duo of English barristers has established a set of chambers in the Cayman Islands in a first for the offshore jurisdiction.
Shân Warnock-Smith QC and Andrew De La Rosa have launched International Chancery and Trusts (ICT) Chambers in response to an increasingly international client base and work flow. The pair also remain associated with London set 5 Stone Buildings, where Warnock-Smith is a tenant and De La Rosa a door tenant.
Although some individual English barristers work from Cayman and other offshore jurisdictions, ICT Chambers is believed to be the first fully established English set on the islands.
Warnock-Smith and De La Rosa both specialise in trusts, private client and wealth management issues. Many clients using trusts and other investment structures opt for Cayman as their preferred domicile and the jurisdiction continues to flourish despite the financial crisis.
“While London is, of course, the centre of excellence as far as legal services are concerned, as our clientele becomes even more mobile than they have before we started to conclude that we too needed to be more international than we have been,” Warnock-Smith said.
She said Cayman was the logical jurisdiction to establish ICT Chambers as it has been the most frequent international destination for both De La Rosa and Warnock-Smith in recent years. Last year Warnock-Smith acted on two notable disputes before the Cayman Grand Court. English counsel routinely appear in Cayman courts as well as advising on Cayman-related cases in the English courts.
Both barristers are called to the Cayman bar and also had to obtain local work permits. Warnock-Smith said ICT Chambers had undertaken to operate on a referral basis, picking up work from the local legal community.
“The significant thing about us is that we act as independent counsel on a referral basis just as we do in London,” said De La Rosa.
“Our object is to be an enhancement to the legal profession,” Warnock-Smith added. “We can be there on the ground for consultation and court appearances without quite so much of the expense and difficulty of instructing London counsel.”
Work carried out from ICT Chambers will cover other international jurisdictions including Hong Kong and Bermuda as well as Cayman.
The set will accept instructions on behalf of clients based around the world, although both its founder members acknowledged that the jurisdiction is useful for US clients.
“We cover all the established finance centres and the significant emerging ones,” De La Rosa explained. “Although Cayman is the same timezone as the eastern US, it’s still, we judge, the best base for the wide span of work that we’ve come to specialise in and undertake.”
Warnock-Smith added that the set was open to expansion and would entertain discussions with both English and Cayman counsel, provided that the former group were able to gain work permits.