It seems that 2017 will be remembered as the year of the initial coin offering (ICO). The Cayman Islands is witnessing an upsurge in ICO-related business and structuring an ICO through the territory remains an attractive proposition. However, ICO-specific guidance is yet to be issued by the government or the regulator, and a number of legal uncertainties remain. Existing statutory and regulatory regimes must therefore be considered when structuring an ICO.
Draft legislation was recently published to introduce the limited liability partnership (LLP) as a new partnership vehicle in the Cayman Islands. The bill provides for the formation, registration and operation of an LLP as an entity with limited liability and legal personality separate from its partners. The bill also provides for the conversion of existing Cayman partnerships into LLPs and the continuation of foreign LLPs into the Cayman Islands.
The government recently published draft legislation which, when adopted, will require Cayman companies to maintain beneficial ownership registers and for the information in the registers to be made automatically available to the Cayman Islands competent authority through a centralised beneficial ownership platform. The legislation is now expected to pass through the usual approval process in the Legislative Assembly.
The spotlight of the international community is shining more brightly than ever on international financial centres and those that use them, in an effort to reduce aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion. To assist global efforts to tackle tax evasion and corruption and to increase transparency, the government has amended the Companies Law and proposed a fundamental overhaul of its confidentiality laws.
Shareholders in a company that is the subject of a takeover and merger have certain intrinsic rights available to them in the event that they dissent to the merger, most notably a right to have their shares purchased at a 'fair value'. The Cayman courts will approach the issue of fair value on the individual facts; the starting point is a valuation approach on the basis of no discount or premium attributable to the merger itself.
As Cayman Islands entities are not directly subject to the so-called 'automatic exchange of information' agreements, the government has introduced legislation to implement these under the Tax Information Authority Law. Guidance notes have also been issued, providing details of the notification, reporting and ongoing obligations that apply, as well as a useful reminder of the differences between the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Common Reporting Standard.
The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal recently provided some clarity on the ranking of priority in the liquidation of amounts owing to shareholders and former shareholders of a company operating as an open-ended investment fund. The decision has confirmed that Section 37(7)(a) of the Cayman Islands Companies Law applies where a shareholder has merely accrued the right to redeem his or her shares, but has not yet completed the redemption process prescribed by the company's articles.
A recent decision by the Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division has affirmed that the law of the Cayman Islands applied on the question of the law applicable to derivative claims brought by a shareholder of a Cayman Islands company in the New York jurisdiction. Any shareholder of a Cayman Islands company that wishes to bring a derivative action must commence the action in the Cayman Islands.
A widely discussed recent Cayman Grand Court decision declined to follow the precedent set in Re China Milk Products Group Ltd, instead striking out a winding-up petition filed by the directors of China Shanshui Cement Group Limited for lack of standing. The decision re-establishes the principles set out in the English case of Re Emmadart Ltd as good law in the Cayman Islands.