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.
The FPP Barrister & Attorney application process
Such members are traditionally invoiced during the month of September/October of each year with a deadline to apply for membership renewal by 30 November for the following practicing year. The FPP application (form) has been designed to be completed and saved by the applicant to assist in easing the annual renewal submission process.
For renewal purpose only and to assist Bar Council, we ask that ALL applications for a FPP background check begin sooner rather than later taking into account that applications submitted to the Bar Office are to have the date of 1 September and year inserted. The thought process is that there will be a clear distinction between the FPP application procedure, the issuance of the FPP Certificate followed by invoicing for annual dues which leads to a final outcome where you are licensed to practice on 1 January of each year.
Current Active Barrister & Attorney member of the Bermuda Bar Association
Members already issued 2022 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 again until it is time to renew their membership for 2023. The 90 day validity highligted in the FPP Certificate is speific to allow a window of opportunity to
a) renew membership with the Bar Association and;
b) double duty the FPP Certificate issued by Bar Council when re-registering your firm or company with the AML/ATF Board with renewal registrations taking place from the 1st through the 31st of October. (*new law firm registrations can take place anytime throughout the year).
If you wish to double duty your FPP, please look at the issue date of your FPP and prepare to submit your re-registration with the AML/ATF Board before your FPP expires otherwise a new background check will need to be carried out by the AML/ATF Board where you will be charged an additional $100 payable directly to the AML/ATF Board.
The FPP AML/ATF Board FPP application process
Please note that AML/ATF amendments to the Rules 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).
Barristers & Attorneys, the FPP Certificates issued for Practicing Certificates WILL suffice for use during re-registration of the firm/company with the AML/ATF Board. There is no need to re-submit FPP forms or send additional payment for Barristers & Attorneys who have applied for them through their Practicing Certificate applications.
For firms/companies who have non-attorney controllers, directors or senior executives who needs to have a Fit and Proper Person background check conducted, please complete the FPP application form which is specific to the AML/ATF Board and submit it to Technical Officer Peter Aldrich at email@example.com Peter will then issue the firm/company a Research Certificate (subject to the applicant clearing the Refinitiv World background check with nothing to disclose).
For Professional Companies, this Research Certificate should then be included in your renewal CoR application to the Bar Office.
The only FPP forms and payment needed by the AML/ATF Board are for those controllers, directors or senior executives who are not Attorneys.
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.
Upon receipt of a completed Fit & Proper Person application (form), the Bar Office conducts the Refinitiv World background check. 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.
There is an administrative cost for the application process in the amount of $100 with the fee payable to either the Bermuda Bar Association Office, or the AML/ATF Board Office, depending on which FPP application has been requested.
AML/ATF BOARD FIT & PROPER PERSON APPLICATION FORM (NON-ATTORNEYS - *save to ease annual submission/payable AML/ATF Office)
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.