Mr Ian Mann

Ian Mann

Lawyer biography

Expertise and Professional Background

Ian is head of Harneys' BVI and Cayman litigation and restructuring department in Hong Kong - servicing Asia based clients involved in BVI and Cayman litigation.  He joined Harneys in 2009 and became a partner in 2011.

Ian specialises in insolvency, restructuring, shareholders' disputes and contentious trusts (Ian is also a TEP).  Ian is an experienced advocate who has a number of reported cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal in England.  He continues to appear regularly as advocate in the Commercial Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Prior to moving offshore, Ian practised as a barrister at 13 King's Bench Walk, chambers of Roger Ellis QC, London.

Ian has regularly appeared in ex parte applications seeking interim relief in support of multi-jurisdictional litigation to preserve assets and is accustomed to working in large onshore and offshore teams.

Recently, Ian has been appointed BVI Counsel to the Joint Administrators of the Estate of Nina Wang; and has been involved in: the insolvency of Cayman company, CDC Corporation, controlling shareholder of HK listed company China.com; the insolvency of one of the companies of the Titan Petrochemicals Group; unfair prejudice proceedings in relation to a BVI joint venture vehicle owning substantial operations in the People’s Republic of China; and several contentious trusts applications involving substantial Hong Kong and PRC based assets.

Ian is one of the general editors of British Virgin Islands Commercial Law, Sweet & Maxwell, 2011

Memberships

  • International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Professionals (INSOL)
  • American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
  • Trusts Law Specialist (TEP)

Directories

  • Ranked by Chambers for his expertise in "insolvency, restructuring, shareholder disputes and contentious trusts issues".
  • Recommended by Legal 500.

Education

  • Inns of Court School of Law, 2000
  • Churchill College, University of Cambridge, LL.M., 1999
  • University of Southampton LL.B., 1998

Bar Admissions

  • Called to the Bar of England and Wales, 2000 (not practising)
  • Admitted in the British Virgin Islands, 2008
  • Admitted in New York, 2010 (not practising)

Updates

Company & Commercial

Court of Appeal provides guidance on directors' powers
British Virgin Islands | 22 January 2018

A recent Court of Appeal ruling provided guidance on directors' powers after considering whether a fresh issuance of shares by directors which altered the balance of voting power between the shareholders was done for a proper purpose. The court held that directors should not issue shares in a manner that could affect the balance of power between groups of shareholders or create new majorities, irrespective of whether the old or new majority have a proprietary interest in the fund.

Appointing an inspector: viable alternative to liquidation?
Cayman Islands | 06 July 2015

The means of redress available to unfairly treated shareholders in the Cayman islands are limited. However, under the Companies Law, the Grand Court can appoint inspectors to examine into the affairs of any company and report thereon, on application of one of the company's shareholders. In some instances, the appointment of an inspector is the most timely and cost-effective solution to a dispute.

Corporate Finance/M&A

Mergers and fair value: what does it mean to a dissenting shareholder?
Cayman Islands | 20 July 2016

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.

Litigation

Grand Court gives directions for dissenters' discovery in appraisal action
Cayman Islands | 11 September 2018

Following the recent Court of Appeal decision in Qunar, the Grand Court handed down written reasons for its further directions for dissenters' discovery in a Section 238 appraisal action. The reasons acknowledge that the Grand Court's approach to discovery has changed as a result of the Court of Appeal's decision, such that a "general requirement for automatic mutual disclosure" now applies.

Singapore and BVI courts cooperate against cross-border fraud
British Virgin Islands | 14 August 2018

The Singapore Court of Appeal recently ruled to reinstate and expand a Mareva injunction against fraudster defendants in a conspiracy claim, providing strong support for an earlier decision of the BVI Commercial Court in related proceedings. The decision demonstrates the importance of consistency between courts in multiple jurisdictions in complex cross-border cases.

Court of Appeal reaffirms that it will rarely reverse findings of fact
British Virgin Islands | 07 August 2018

The BVI Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal against the liquidators of BVI company Pioneer Freight Futures Company Limited and reaffirmed the established law regarding reversing findings of fact. The court held that it will intervene only in rare cases, such as when there is no evidence to support the conclusion, the conclusion was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence or the conclusion was one that no reasonable judge could have reached.

Freezing injunction: what is a good arguable case?
British Virgin Islands | 26 June 2018

The BVI Commercial Court has provided helpful guidance as to the threshold for a good arguable case, dismissing an application to discharge a worldwide freezing injunction obtained by a claimant. The court held that where there is a good arguable case that a defendant has acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or with "unacceptable low standards of morality giving rise to a feeling of uneasiness about the defendant", further evidence is often unnecessary to justify a freezing injunction.

Getting schooled in Nord Anglia – extra safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation
Cayman Islands | 12 June 2018

In Nord Anglia the justice made directions orders regarding the use of keyword searches, the number and scope of information requests, and the conduct of management meetings consistent with the orders made in Xiadu Life Technology. Further, the judgment will provide welcome safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation in the Cayman Islands if adopted on a wider basis.

Shanda Games: Court of Appeal confirms timing for leave to appeal to Privy Council
Cayman Islands | 05 June 2018

Appeals to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal are regulated in the Cayman Islands (Appeals to Privy Council) Order 1984. However, the order does not provide for how to determine the date of a decision. The Court of Appeal recently ruled that for the purposes of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, time runs from the date on which an order is sealed or perfected, not the date on which the judgment is delivered.

Court of Appeal rules on dissenters' discovery
Cayman Islands | 15 May 2018

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has released its decision in the appeal of a directions order on the issue of whether dissenting shareholders in appraisal actions under Section 238 of the Companies Law are required to give discovery. The court emphasised the danger in forming a priori assumptions regarding relevance and concluded that there was insufficient justification for adopting an "extreme and unique" position of one-sided disclosure in Section 238 cases.

Dissenting shareholders: judicial management and e-discovery
Cayman Islands | 01 May 2018

In a partial ruling in Xiaodu Life Technology, the Cayman Islands Grand Court ruled on the scope of the company's discovery and the use of keyword searches; whether the number of information requests should be limited; and the number and conduct of management meetings, including whether they should be open or without prejudice.

Substance of Aldi principles apply in British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands | 24 April 2018

The Commercial Division of the BVI Court has granted a strike out application on the grounds that the Aldi Stores Ltd v WSP Group plc principles – whereby a party which intends to bring a subsequent action against existing parties must raise the issue with the court – apply in the British Virgin Islands. It held that while the principles may not have been promulgated in this jurisdiction, litigants must put their cards on the table at an early stage or risk being held to have abused the court's process.

Guidelines adopted for communication and cooperation between courts
British Virgin Islands | 04 July 2017

The British Virgin Islands recently adopted new guidelines for communication and cooperation between courts in cross-border insolvency matters. The guidelines are designed primarily to enhance communication between courts, insolvency representatives and other parties in the context of global restructurings and insolvency. As a result of the increased efficiency, it is hoped that stakeholders will see a reduction in delays and costs.

Commercial Court appoints three new judges
British Virgin Islands | 24 January 2017

There have recently been three judicial appointments to the Commercial Court designed to increase the capacity of the court in 2017. The appointments should provide further momentum and expertise to the BVI Commercial Division and enhance the court's ability to deal with complex cases promptly and effectively.

Costs clarity: Commercial Court finds foreign lawyers' costs generally recoverable
British Virgin Islands | 30 August 2016

The BVI Commercial Court recently handed down new guidance which clarifies its position on the recoverability of foreign lawyers' costs and underlines its clear intent to accommodate and provide practical solutions for international litigation in the British Virgin Islands.

Obtaining information about a BVI company by court order
British Virgin Islands | 11 December 2012

A search of the BVI Company Registry is likely to reveal only limited information. Thus, although confidentiality in BVI companies is still paramount, in limited circumstances court actions under the principle set out in Norwich Pharmacal v Customs and Excise Commissioners can be successfully brought before an action against third parties to identify, for example, the shareholders of BVI companies.

Private Client & Offshore Services

Misplaced trust – what happens when your trustee goes AWOL?
British Virgin Islands | 04 April 2019

In a recent case, an applicant succeeded in the increasingly commonplace but frustrating situation where the beneficiary of a revocable bare trust cannot obtain execution of the trust due to an uncooperative or defunct corporate nominee. The court ultimately granted the vesting order sought by the beneficial owner and appointed an insolvency practitioner as the statutory proper person.

Commercial Court provides welcome guidance on Norwich Pharmacal relief in aid of foreign proceedings
British Virgin Islands | 21 March 2019

In a recent ex tempore judgment, the BVI Commercial Court's power to grant Norwich Pharmacal disclosure orders in support of foreign proceedings was clarified. The judgment was given on a successful application for Norwich Pharmacal relief to assist Brazilian clients in bringing claims for the recovery of misappropriated assets. The decision confirms the British Virgin Islands as a particularly helpful jurisdiction in the fight against international fraud and the recovery of misappropriated assets.

This is not a wind up: BVI court approves restructuring provisional liquidation
British Virgin Islands | 14 March 2019

In a major development in BVI insolvency law and practice, the Commercial Court recently held that provisional liquidation is available to facilitate a restructuring. The objective of a restructuring provisional liquidation is to provide a better outcome for creditors than would be likely on a winding up. The Commercial Court's decision will certainly influence the current debate in the British Virgin Islands regarding insolvency legislation reforms.

Grand Court gives directions for dissenters' discovery in appraisal action
Cayman Islands | 13 September 2018

Following the recent Court of Appeal decision in Qunar, the Grand Court handed down written reasons for its further directions for dissenters' discovery in a Section 238 appraisal action. The reasons acknowledge that the Grand Court's approach to discovery has changed as a result of the Court of Appeal's decision, such that a "general requirement for automatic mutual disclosure" now applies.

Singapore and BVI courts cooperate against cross-border fraud
British Virgin Islands | 16 August 2018

The Singapore Court of Appeal recently ruled to reinstate and expand a Mareva injunction against fraudster defendants in a conspiracy claim, providing strong support for an earlier decision of the BVI Commercial Court in related proceedings. The decision demonstrates the importance of consistency between courts in multiple jurisdictions in complex cross-border cases.

Court of Appeal reaffirms that it will rarely reverse findings of fact
British Virgin Islands | 09 August 2018

The BVI Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal against the liquidators of BVI company Pioneer Freight Futures Company Limited and reaffirmed the established law regarding reversing findings of fact. The court held that it will intervene only in rare cases, such as when there is no evidence to support the conclusion, the conclusion was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence or the conclusion was one that no reasonable judge could have reached.

Freezing injunction: what is a good arguable case?
British Virgin Islands | 21 June 2018

The BVI Commercial Court has provided helpful guidance as to the threshold for a good arguable case, dismissing an application to discharge a worldwide freezing injunction obtained by a claimant. The court held that where there is a good arguable case that a defendant has acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or with "unacceptable low standards of morality giving rise to a feeling of uneasiness about the defendant", further evidence is often unnecessary to justify a freezing injunction.

Getting schooled in Nord Anglia – extra safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation
Cayman Islands | 07 June 2018

In Nord Anglia the justice made directions orders regarding the use of keyword searches, the number and scope of information requests, and the conduct of management meetings consistent with the orders made in Xiadu Life Technology. Further, the judgment will provide welcome safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation in the Cayman Islands if adopted on a wider basis.

Shanda Games: Court of Appeal confirms timing for leave to appeal to Privy Council
Cayman Islands | 31 May 2018

Appeals to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal are regulated in the Cayman Islands (Appeals to Privy Council) Order 1984. However, the order does not provide for how to determine the date of a decision. The Court of Appeal recently ruled that for the purposes of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, time runs from the date on which an order is sealed or perfected, not the date on which the judgment is delivered.

Court of Appeal rules on dissenters' discovery
Cayman Islands | 10 May 2018

It has long been argued that no sui generis category of litigants is exempt from the general rules of discovery, which aim to protect the integrity of the litigation process. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal recently released its decision in the appeal of a directions order, in which the contested issue was whether dissenting shareholders in appraisal actions under Section 238 of the Companies Law are required to give discovery.

Dissenting shareholders: judicial management and e-discovery
Cayman Islands | 26 April 2018

In a partial ruling in Xiaodu Life Technology, the Cayman Islands Grand Court ruled on the scope of the company's discovery and the use of keyword searches; whether the number of information requests should be limited; and the number and conduct of management meetings, including whether they should be open or without prejudice.

Substance of Aldi principles apply in British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands | 19 April 2018

The Commercial Division of the BVI Court has granted a strike out application on the grounds that the Aldi Stores Ltd v WSP Group plc principles – whereby a party which intends to bring a subsequent action against existing parties must raise the issue with the court – apply in the British Virgin Islands. It held that while the principles may not have been promulgated in this jurisdiction, litigants must put their cards on the table at an early stage or risk being held to have abused the court's process.

Court of Appeal provides guidance on directors' powers
British Virgin Islands | 18 January 2018

A recent Court of Appeal ruling provided guidance on directors' powers after considering whether a fresh issuance of shares by directors which altered the balance of voting power between the shareholders was done for a proper purpose. The court held that directors should not issue shares in a manner that could affect the balance of power between groups of shareholders or create new majorities, irrespective of whether the old or new majority have a proprietary interest in the fund.

Guidelines adopted for communication and cooperation between courts
British Virgin Islands | 29 June 2017

The British Virgin Islands recently adopted new guidelines for communication and cooperation between courts in cross-border insolvency matters. The guidelines are designed primarily to enhance communication between courts, insolvency representatives and other parties in the context of global restructurings and insolvency. As a result of the increased efficiency, it is hoped that stakeholders will see a reduction in delays and costs.

Commercial Court appoints three new judges
British Virgin Islands | 26 January 2017

There have recently been three judicial appointments to the Commercial Court designed to increase the capacity of the court in 2017. The appointments should provide further momentum and expertise to the BVI Commercial Division and enhance the court's ability to deal with complex cases promptly and effectively.

Confidential Information Disclosure Law published
Cayman Islands | 22 September 2016

The new Confidential Information Disclosure Law modernises the Cayman Islands' approach to confidential information, doing away with the criminal penalties which accompanied its predecessor and bringing the deliberations over breach of confidence into the realm of the rules of equity and common law. The law includes a new exemption through which disclosure of confidential information is permitted, essentially introducing a 'whistleblowing' defence for disclosures made in good faith.

Costs clarity: Commercial Court finds foreign lawyers' costs generally recoverable
British Virgin Islands | 01 September 2016

The BVI Commercial Court recently handed down new guidance which clarifies its position on the recoverability of foreign lawyers' costs and underlines its clear intent to accommodate and provide practical solutions for international litigation in the British Virgin Islands. The decision will give considerable comfort to those already engaged in matters before the court and to those advising on launching proceedings in the British Virgin Islands.

Mergers and fair value: what does it mean to a dissenting shareholder?
Cayman Islands | 14 July 2016

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.

Appointing an inspector: viable alternative to liquidation?
Cayman Islands | 09 July 2015

The means of redress available to unfairly treated shareholders in the Cayman islands are limited. However, under the Companies Law, the Grand Court can appoint inspectors to examine into the affairs of any company and report thereon, on application of one of the company's shareholders. In some instances the appointment of an inspector is the most timely and cost-effective solution to a dispute.

Asset tracing in the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands | 09 July 2015

Confidentiality of corporate documents and information is one of the key attractions of incorporating a company in the British Virgin Islands. In light of this, what means are available to a party in the British Virgin Islands which seeks to recover property that has been misappropriated, where the identity of the wrongdoer or the whereabouts of the misappropriated property is unknown?

Privy Council clarifies power to rectify share registers of BVI companies
British Virgin Islands | 21 May 2015

The Privy Council recently handed down a decision clarifying the power of the courts to rectify the share register of a BVI company under Section 43(1)(a) of the Business Companies Act 2004. The judge confirmed that the primary issue was the validity of the contract, and that the question of which court was the most appropriate forum should be viewed as a matter of contract rather than company law.

Obtaining information about a BVI company by court order
British Virgin Islands | 06 December 2012

A search of the BVI Company Registry is likely to reveal only limited information. Thus, although confidentiality in BVI companies is still paramount, in limited circumstances a Norwich Pharmacal disclosure and production order can be obtained against third parties to identify, for example, the shareholders of BVI companies. Although rare, the courts have shown themselves willing to recognise such relief as a flexible and adaptable remedy.

White Collar Crime

Asset tracing in the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands | 13 July 2015

Confidentiality of corporate documents and information is one of the key attractions of incorporating a company in the British Virgin Islands. In light of this, what means are available to a party in the British Virgin Islands which seeks to recover property which has been misappropriated, where the identity of the wrongdoer or the whereabouts of the misappropriated property is unknown?