In accordance with recent amendments made to the Bermuda Bar Act 1974 and Rules associated thereto, Barristers, Attorneys and Registered Associates who wish to engage in the practice of law in this jurisdiction are required as of 1 February 2019 to apply for a Fit & Proper Certificate which will be issued by the Bermuda Bar Council. The purpose of the Fit & Proper Certificate is to determine that fit and proper standards are met by the applicant.
Bermuda Bar Act 1974 Sections 10E, 10F & 10G apply.
Fit and proper persons. Every Barrister and registered associate, and every shareholder, controller, director and senior executive who exercises control of a professional company, must be a fit and proper person to engage in the practice of law.
Bar Council is authorized to issue a Fit & Proper Person Certificate in accordance with the Bermuda Bar Act 1974 Section 10 E (8): The Council may make a determination upon an application for enrolment being made under section 52 of the Supreme Court Act 1905, or upon the application of any person who proposes the candidacy of any such applicant for enrolment at the Supreme Court.
Fit & Proper person (FPP) background check, and FPP Certificate is required as exhibited evidence when applying for admission to the Bermuda Bar
Any person applying for admission to the Bermuda Bar who meets the requirements as set out in the Supreme Court Act 1905 (Sections 51(2) & 52), including the following are required to apply for a background check and be issued a Fit & Proper Certificate as evidence:
i) Existing Registered Associates whose name appears in the book of Registered Associates kept by the Registrar of the Supreme Court having met the 12 month residency requirement and who are applying for admission;
ii) Crown Counsel (AG’S Chambers and the Department of Public Prosecutions);
iv) Returning Bermudian Barristers & Attorneys admitted overseas and who now seek admission to the Bermuda Bar;
v) Work Permit holders employed in the capacity as In-house Counsel;
vi) Senior Counsel or Queen’s Counsel (QCs) applying for Special Admission for a particular case. Please note that Senior Counsel or QCs who have received prior approval by Bar Council that foreign counsel is appropriate for the hearing in question who is to be issued a Special Practising Certificate are also required to submit a Fit & Proper Person Certificate either by their relevant authority in the jurisdiction of legal practice of the barrister, or if time permits applications may be made through the Bar Office.
Current Active members of the Bermuda Bar Association
Members already issued 2019 Practicing Certificates (*where applicable), or **Registered Associates (unless applying for admission to the Bermuda Bar) who are current members of the Bermuda Bar Association are not required to apply for a Fit & Proper Certificate until it is time to renew their membership for 2020. Such members are traditionally invoiced during the month of September of each year with a deadline to apply by 30 November for the following practicing year. Registered Associates applying for admission to the Bermuda Bar on or after 1 February 2019 are however required to apply for a Fit & Proper person background check. The application form has been designed to be completed and saved by the applicant to assist in easing the annual renewal submission process. Please note that NEW AML/ATF amendments passed in August 2018 titled the Bermuda Bar (Barristers & Accountants) AML/ATF Board Act 2018 require all persons in independent practice to register with the AML/ATF Board. Part of that registration process includes the need for a Fit & Proper Certificate. This is distinct from the process required of Bar Council in issuing a Practicing Certificate (*where applicable).
The application process is a two pronged process in which you should allow a minimum window of 14 days to complete
1. There will be a background check; and
2. Bar Council will conduct their own investigation.
Bar Council has outsourced the background World Check service to be provided by the Barristers & Accountants AML/ATF Board. Once the results are received, Bar Council will conduct its own further research in accordance with the rules acting fairly and in good faith in respect of each application taking into account the disciplinary record of the applicant (within the last 5 years), and other records.
Where Bar Council has determined that a person is a fit and proper to engage in the practice of law, Bar Council shall within five days thereafter issue to that person a Fit & Proper Person Certificate in such form as it shall determine. The Fit & Proper Certificate is valid for a period of ninety days immediately preceding the date on which the applicant applies for a Practicing Certificate (where applicable). The application for a fit and proper certificate is required on an annual basis.
If the application for a Fit & Proper Certificate is denied, the applicant will be notified as such and the applicant may appeal the decision to the Court within one month of being notified by Bar Council. The determination of the Supreme Court shall be final. We do not anticipate that any member will be denied a fit & proper certificate, however all applicants must appreciate that it is a privilege to practice law in our jurisdiction and we should all strive to keep an exemplary standard both personally and professionally. Bar Council’s role is to protect the interests of clients, potential clients and the public, as well as the interest of protecting the integrity of the profession as a whole.
Applicant, please complete the application form and submit along with payment to the Bermuda Bar Association. Please note that the fit & proper application can be processed in tandem with applying for membership. Larger law firms may wish to begin the application process well in advance of renewing annual membership with the Association. Please ensure that you receive a confirmation email from the Office of Bar Council confirming that your application along with fees has been received and is under review.
There is an administrative cost for the application process in the amount of $100 with the fee payable to the Bermuda Bar Association.
FIT & PROPER PERSON APPLICATION FORM (*save to ease annual submission)
Please direct enquiries to the following:
Annwen Stirling, Executive Secretary
Bermuda Bar Association
As of 1 February 2019, the Fit & Proper status of a members is a new requirement in our jurisdiction in which we will continue to monitor the application procedure above with a view to making improvements from time to time. We thank you for your patience while Bar Council work on finalizing a smooth application process.