BARRISTER & ATTORNEY WORK PERMIT HOLDERS REQUIRE 12 MONTH RESIDENCY PRIOR TO MAKING APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE BERMUDA BAR
Attorneys issued work permits allowing employment as a Barrister & Attorney for a Bermuda law firm or a registered professional company (who have not yet been called to the Bermuda Bar) are required to be registered as a registered associate in accordance with section 14 of the Bermuda Bar Act 1974. Section 2 of the act requires registered associates become members of the Bermuda Bar Association. There is a 12 month residency requirement to be met prior to the Registered Associate being eligible to apply for admission to the Bermuda Bar. Only law firms are permitted to employ Registered Associates.
A person shall be qualified for registration as an associate under this section if he is qualified in the manner set out in section 51 (1)(a) of the Supreme Court Act 1905 (title 8 item 1) or satisfies the Registrar that he is entitled to practice in court of the nature described in section 51 (1)(b) of the Supreme Court Act 1905.
A person may only be lawfully employed in Bermuda to perform the functions allowed to a Registered Associate if he is to engage in gainful occupation or to be employed in Bermuda under the Bermuda Immigration and protection Act 1956. In June 2020, the Bermuda Bar Act 1974 saw amendments to allow overseas Registered Associates employed with Bermuda affiliated firms be permitted to practice Bermuda law.
BERMUDA BAR ACT 1974 – REGISTRATION OF ASSOCIATES
Any person who procures the registration of himself or any other person as a Registered Associate by any false or misleading certificate or statement commits an offence: Punishment on summary conviction; a fine of $1, 000.00 (Section 14 amended by 2009: 29 effective 19 October 2009)
The registration of the barrister & attorney with the court should be completed promptly upon employment - within 4 weeks of landing is acceptable. Member activation with the Bermuda Bar Association is to take place soon thereafter. Failing to register a registered associate with the supreme court and activating membership with the bar association is an offence in that the person is unqualified to provide legal services in this jurisdiction.
RULES & OTHER USEFUL DOCUMENTATION:
- Bermuda Bar Act 1974 (Section 10E, 14, 15 & 16 apply)
- Qualifications & Procedure for admission to the Bermuda Bar (same submission of documents required to Register a Registered Associate)
- Registered Associate Supreme Court Checklist Application Aug 2015
- New Member Activation Bermuda Bar Association (form)
PROCEDURE FOR REGISTERING A REGISTERED ASSOCIATE WITH THE SUPREME COURT OF BERMUDA:
Applications should be addressed and submitted to the Registrar of the Supreme Court Mrs. Alexandra Wheatley with Bar Council to be copied in on the application. Bar Council do not need to vet the application as by the time the application is made to the Supreme Court, all of the vetting requirements should have been met prior to this stage.
The majority of supporting evidential documentation required when registering a Registered Associate is the same as that is required for admission to the Bermuda Bar. It would be useful if you kept the application on file for ease of transitioning for admission 12 months later (subject to applicant meeting residency and admission requirements).
A Fit & Proper Person background check is also required. If Bar Council is satisfied, a Fit & Proper Person Certificate will be issued to the applicant. The Certificate is to be included as evidential documentation along with affidavits when filing with the Courts. Please complete the Fit & Proper Person application form and submit to the Bar Office for processing. Kindly allow at least 10 days for the background check to be completed.
Once the Registered Associate application is complete and approved by the Registrar, the name of the attorney will entered in the Book of Registered Associates kept by the Supreme Court.
The 12 months residency requirement prior to making application for admission to the Bermuda Bar begins from the date of landing and not from the date that the Registered Associate’s name is entered in the Register of Associates book. Reasonable vacation time off island is acceptable, however notable absences may result in the 12 month residency requirement becoming invalid. Please note that Registered Associates employed with overseas affiliated offices are not eligible to apply for admission to the Bermuda Bar.
The Registrar requires that applications for registration by the firm or registered professional company for an attorney working in Bermuda on a work permit or working for an overseas affiliated office be supported by an affidavit to be sworn by a partner in the law firm or registered professional company. The application should include the following:
(i) a cover letter from the (Partner) addressed to the Registrar;
(ii) 2 copies of the documents are to be filed with the Court;
(iii) in the case of on island Registered Associates, the full work permit & card issued by the Department of Immigration is to be exhibited;
(iv) (Attorney deponent/applicants affidavit) included in the exhibits, a Certificate from the competent authority evidencing the Attorney’s qualifications to practice in Bermuda under section 51(1)(a) of the Supreme Court Act). This should include the original degree(s)(qualifications), Practising Certificate ("PC") (if still active overseas) along with a Certificate of Good Standing ("COGS") from all jurisdictions admitted, a Fit & Proper Person Certificate ("FPPC") issued by the Bermuda Bar Council, and copy of passport. Please note that in light of challenges caused by the Pandemic, the Registrar will accept 'Certified' copies of the exhibited qualifications, overseas COGS and PC, save for the FPPC issued by the Bar Office - the original must be shown during the time of filing. Additionally, filing Certified and/or Notarized documents past 3 months is not acceptable.
(v) (Partner affidavit) a statement by the deponent (Partner) in an affidavit that to the best of his/her knowledge and belief the applicant is of good character;
There are THREE SETS OF FEES payable at the time of Registering a Registered Associate with the Courts and the Bermuda Bar Association:
1. COURT FEES: Due at the time of preparing the bundle of supporting documents showing proof of qualifications and affidavits to register, or renew the registration of the Registered Associate with the Courts. (Payable via Revenue Stamps attached to supporting documents)
2. COURT FEES: Due at the time of filing the above supporting documents with the Registrar of the Supreme Court. Fees payable to the Courts vary depending on which category the Registered Associate falls under as follows:
- Initial 3 year registration fee of a Bermuda based Registered Associate $215
- Initial 3 year registration of Registered Associate employed with an overseas affiliated office $625
- In all cases, a 3 year renewal registration fee of $560 (*note date of registration and flag to prompt renewal of registration with the Courts)
Fees are Payable via Cash, or Cheque made out to the Accountant General and is to be presented at the Supreme Court Registrar’s Office on the 2nd floor of the Government Administration Building. Receipt will be provided by the Courts at the time of payment.
3. BERMUDA BAR ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP FEES: Activation of membership in order to practice law. (Membership fee scale based on years RA registration $850, $950 or $1, 050) + (Fit & Proper Person (FPP) fee $100) = Amount due: $950, $1, 050 or $1, 150 (after 30 June of each year, the fee is halved (excludes discount on FPP Fee).
BAR ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP ACTIVATION OF THE REGISTERED ASSOCIATE:
Once the application process has been submitted to the Registrar of the Supreme Court and the Certificate issued, kindly make payment of annual dues to activate membership of the Registered Associate with the Bermuda Bar Association Office. Please note the Registered Associate # when signing the Supreme Court book as this is needed by the Bar Office when activating membership with the Bermuda Bar Association. The name of the Registered Associate will then be added to the Bermuda Bar Association website listing at the following link after the membership activation process is complete. PRACTISING MEMBERS
YOUR ATTENTION IS DRAWN TO THE SECTION 15 OF THE BERMUDA BAR ACT 1974 RELATING TO THE “PERMITTED FUNCTIONS OF REGISTERED ASSOCIATES”:
“Not withstanding anything to the contrary in this Act, a registered associate shall be entitled to act as the agent for the barrister by whom he is employed in the drawing and preparation of instruments relating either to real or personal property, or on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or letters of administration or a resealing thereof, in the taking of instructions from clients, in the giving of instructions to counsel, in the preparation of such documents relating to legal proceedings as are to be prepared in the chambers of the barrister, and generally in the conduct of such of the business of the barrister as is normally conducted in the chambers of a barrister and attorney”.
It is believed the original intention of this section was to enable persons who were unable to meet all the qualifications required to be called to the Bar to practice in a limited fashion until they were able to complete such requirements. The limitation on the scope of activities that may be performed by a registered associate and his or her authority to perform such activities (i.e. only as an agent of a barrister and attorney) is real. A Registered Associate may be an “unqualified person” in respect of anything done, or performed which is beyond the scope of his/her competence and/or authority.
“Registered Associates” are members of the Bermuda Bar Association and therefore subject to the same professional conduct rules as members who have been “admitted”.
If a Registered Associate ceases to be employed by the law firm prior to meeting the 12 month residency requirement to qualify and make application for admission to the Bermuda Bar, please write to inform the Registrar of the Supreme Court to have the name of the Registered Associate removed from the Register of Associates - please also notify the Bar Office. Former Registered Associates who return to working for a Bermuda registered law firm are required to go through a repeat registration process to meet the 12 month residency requirement if they were not admitted to the Bermuda Bar.
DEFINITIONS BERMUDA BAR ACT 1974:
“ASSOCIATION” means the Bermuda Bar Association established under section 2;
“BAR” means the Bar of Bermuda;
“BARRISTER” means a Barrister & Attorney admitted as such;
“REGISTERED ASSOCIATE” means a person whose name appears in the Register of Associates;
“REGISTER OF ASSOCIATES” means the register provided for in section 14 (4);
“REGISTRAR” means the Registrar of the Supreme Court.