It is a status that has taken many years to achieve yet requires constant focus and effort to nurture and protect, as well as to develop and adapt in line with changing market circumstances and international demands.
There is much to be said for Jersey’s history of financial stability and security but for it to maintain its standing internationally and to retain a competitive edge in a dynamic and ever-changing world, it needs to have a sound political environment, an effective regulatory structure and a robust yet flexible legal infrastructure that, collectively, gives confidence to investors, residents and the international community, is conducive to business and operates in line with ever-increasing international standards and expectations.
While it is clear that Jersey enjoys a political, regulatory and legal landscape that enables it to maintain its status in the premier division of international finance centres, it is important to recognise the role that key stakeholders have in achieving and maintaining this positioning.
One of the major contributors in this respect is the part played by Jersey’s legal profession. While it is a profession that is steeped in tradition and heritage, it has adapted to Jersey’s needs and aspirations, acting and reacting to market trends and opportunities and has been instrumental in helping Jersey to attract business both locally and internationally, providing effective and flexible support for new streams of business activity and revenue for the Island. With legal expertise spanning the entire spectrum of banking, corporate finance, trust, fund, property, personal and offshore law, lawyers in Jersey play a critical role in establishing and maintaining Jersey’s position as a jurisdiction of trust and integrity that is fit for the business world of the 21st Century.
The legal profession in Jersey certainly has strength in depth; there are now over 340 Jersey law qualified advocates and solicitors in private practice in Jersey, across no fewer than 48 firms, ranging from the long established sole practitioners who largely focus on the local personal and small business market and a range of medium-sized full service firms, to the large, multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional firms who are engaged by local businesses, FTSE companies and international conglomerates, while also taking instructions from the so-called ‘Magic Circle’ firms in the City of London on matters of Jersey law.
The last five years has also seen the entry into the market, in line with demand, of a growing number of niche, specialist firms, focusing exclusively on key market sectors, such as corporate, criminal or family law.
In addition to the number of lawyers in private practice, significant benefit is derived (for the Island) from a further 60 locally-qualified advocates and solicitors who are working for trust companies and banks and using their legal expertise to nurture and grow these vital parts of Jersey’s business community, while ensuring that the high standards by which Jersey has become known are maintained.
Jersey may have more lawyers per head of population than, for example, in the UK but this is reflective of the diverse and specialist nature of Jersey’s operating environment and business mix, as well as the demand for legal services that does not appear to be abating. This is clearly illustrated by the statistic that no fewer than 240 new advocates and solicitors have been sworn in over the past decade and there being no indication in the market place of a surfeit of lawyers looking for employment.
The legal profession in Jersey is immensely proud of its overall contribution to the Island, which is far wider than the purely financial GVA contribution of £220 million per annum and, in particular, its role in sustaining existing business streams while securing new business opportunities – underpinned by legislation that members of the profession have been instrumental in creating – ensuring that the confidence of investors is maximised, while ensuring that international standards are met at all times.
As the statutory regulatory body for Advocates and Solicitors of the Royal Court of Jersey, The Law Society of Jersey has a key role to play in representing the interests of its members, helping to shape the legal framework, supporting its members in the practice of law and in upholding the highest standards of professional conduct.
In this regard, as well as working with the Jersey government to review and reform the system of legal aid which has, historically, been entirely funded by the profession, it has worked tirelessly to transform the legal landscape. It has helped to update historic laws and create new market-leading legislation that both keeps Jersey’s doors open for business and encourages new streams of business, while playing its part in streamlining processes to improve judicial efficiency and implementing new conduct and client money rules to protect the interests of the clients it serves and in the wider public interest.
It is, though, the collective strength of Jersey’s legal profession, its skills, its responsiveness, its tenacity and its experience, the depth of which truly makes a difference to Jersey, its prosperity and, above all, its position as a highly regarded international finance centre, for which we can be truly proud.
Advocate John Kelleher, President, The Law Society of Jersey.
The Law Society of Jersey is the representative and regulatory body for the legal profession in Jersey. It represents the interests and regulates the legal profession in Jersey, helping to shape and improve the legal framework, supporting its members in the practice of law, while upholding the highest standards of professional conduct.
John Kelleher was called to the English Bar in 1991 and was sworn in as a Jersey Advocate in 1994. He has been a partner of Carey Olsen since 1995 and was appointed as Chairman of the firm in 2009.
John is a prolific writer on local law and is a founding member of the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review. He is a qualified mediator and is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.