You'll see in this news release by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission the latest in a number of changes to impact industry following the overhaul of the Commission since the appointment of the new Director General just under 18 months ago.

The news is that the Commission has appointed a panel of Queen's Counsel (QCs/Silks) to sit as 'Senior Decision Makers' to determine the outcome of the Commission's enforcement cases going forward.

Like many decisions that are presented as a fait accompli, it raises as many questions as presents answers.

On the upside, it brings to the Commission a degree of independence that has been sought for a number of years now and will hopefully remove any appearance of an un-level playing field and bring a fresh pair of eyes to any enforcement action being pursued, but:

  • It's no secret - Silks don't come cheap, how are their costs going to be met?
  • How much work is the Commission expecting to generate for these experts over the coming years?
  • Enforcement cases were previously heard by three Commissioners sitting as the 'Decision Committee'. Now, one QC will be appointed to hear the cases and determine the most appropriate penalties. Does that allow for appropriate balances, checks and controls?
  • Do these English QCs really understand the quirks and particularities of Guernsey financial services businesses and the realities of conducting business within the Bailiwick? And if so, can this 'Senior Decision Maker' function be outsources by the Commission, without local moderation?

No doubt many of the answers to these questions will become clear over time.

And finally, let's hope you're not on the receiving end of having to welcome any one of these eminent experts to the Island!

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