Bermuda's chief justice recently handed down an important decision dealing with the power of the court to intervene in the administration of a trust to approve actions of improperly appointed trustees. This case is important because it confirms the court's inherent jurisdiction, on the appointment of trustees, to grant them leave to administer the trust on the basis that they were properly appointed on a prior date.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court delivered an important judgment in which it exercised its inherent supervisory powers over trusts to appoint protectors. The court also reaffirmed the wide breadth of its jurisdiction under Section 47 of the Trustee Act 1975 to grant trustees power to vary trusts when it is satisfied that it is expedient to do so.
Bermuda is an excellent jurisdiction in which to establish private trust companies, trusts and underlying entities (including private funds and insurance vehicles) and family offices (or branches thereof). However, particular care must be taken with regard to a private trust company's initial structuring. It is critical that the rights, powers and responsibilities vested in particular parties are fully understood (particularly by the settlor both during their lifetime and in future).
In 2018 the Bermuda courts issued several important decisions in trust cases. Moreover, the Trust Law Reform Committee of the Bermuda Business Development Agency remains active and has recently proposed further legislative reform. Among the committee's recent reform initiatives, the amendment to the Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 2009 by the Perpetuities and Accumulations Amendment Act 2015 has resulted in significant interest among international advisers and local practitioners.
Bermuda has historically flown beneath the radar when it comes to promoting itself as the ideal location for the establishment of a family office. However, the overall value of the trust business to Bermuda is significant, with hundreds of billions of trust assets under management on the island. New legal developments bode well for the family office sector and should help to make the Bermuda trust fit for purpose for the next generation of ultra-high-net-worth families.