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everyone else to stand on top of the podium. Yet to have any chance of winning at all, you have to be on the track to begin with. And to many in the Jersey business community, that’s where the race ends. Thanks to the lumbering pace of the island’s draftsmen, they argue, Jersey’s businesses are often stuck at the start line – still waiting for their bike to be built. Take the classic case of e-gaming legislation. Jersey has only just worked out its approach to the sector; meanwhile the industry’s major players have ridden off to Gibraltar and Guernsey. And these jurisdictions now have a head start in the thriving field of data storage too. Also note Amendment 6 of the Companies


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Law. Based on suggestions by a prominent New York investment bank, it was first discussed in 1992, but took 10 years to come into effect – by which time the bank had moved its lucrative business to the Cayman Islands. That offshore centre managed to update its legislation in little over six months. Seek out the root of the problem and it


becomes a game of passing the buck – in which the blame usually lands with the draftsmen. But, it seems, the real problems almost certainly lie in other parts of the chain. And with the States now engaged in its familiar procrastination over intellectual property laws too, business is justified in asking: just what is going on?


On the draft “It’s a common misconception that the process starts with us writing the law,” says Pam Staley, Head of Jersey’s Law Drafting Office. Creating a law first involves the relevant department working up a policy, then an endless chain of consultation, working groups and white papers, before it even lands on the drafting desk. “The


ET’S TREAT business to a sports analogy. It’s a cycle race, your company’s part of the pack, and you have to pedal like mad to beat


discrimination law was a classic case – it was prepared a while ago, but policy reviews and a lack of funding means it hasn’t progressed.” While no one is attacking the efforts


of Staley’s team, it’s commonly said to be under-staffed and under-resourced – a team of five compared to Guernsey’s team of 11, albeit with fewer responsibilities. The Government points the finger elsewhere. Treasury minister Philip Ozouf recently claimed laws were taking longer thanks to a lack of resources at the UK’s Ministry of Justice. The comeback was relatively simple – Guernsey’s laws are going through at the same pace as always, so don’t blame us. The mention of Guernsey is notable. Guernsey’s legislation has to jump through the same hoops as Jersey’s, including a potentially sluggish journey via the Privy Council, yet it consistently manages to introduce lucrative reforms quicker. These go beyond e-gaming to include protected cell companies – introduced in Guernsey 12 years ago – QROPS and captive insurance. It’s hard to blame a lack of resources in Jersey when Guernsey’s law drafting is run on a shoestring budget too. Phil Balderson, Director of Index Ventures,


speaks for many when he claims Jersey’s inaction is down to a culture of indecision. “The intransigence of the States stopped e-gaming,” he says. “The scrutiny panel took ages to review it, and when it finally got the OK from the ministers, the same panel chimed in again and put it back even further. All you ever hear is, ‘Oh, but it’s so complicated because we’re a crown dependency,’ but it’s absolute bunkum.” Over in Guernsey, meanwhile, success is


down to a simple approach: decide quickly on a strategy and then act on it. “We’re good at knowing where to pitch our stall in financial services,” says Peter Niven, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance. “The rest just follows.” As does the trade. For Guernsey and Alderney, both the e-gaming and data


Guernsey’s legislation has to jump through the same hoops as Jersey’s… yet it consistently manages to introduce lucrative reforms quicker


April/May 2011 businesslife.co 17





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