The Signing of Instruments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Jersey Law 2018 was recently passed to enable people to validly execute legal documents (eg, a will or power of attorney) when they are physically incapable of signing their name. It brings about the much-needed change in law that was brought to light in 2015, when a local resident passed away after a paralysis of his hands had rendered him physically – but not mentally – incapable of signing a will.
In Summer 2017 Jersey's Royal Court Rules were amended and 11 new practice directions came into force. These aim to improve access to justice, streamline the civil justice process and, where possible, reduce the risks and costs associated with litigation by encouraging the early resolution of cases to avoid court proceedings.
The Jersey limitation period for claims against directors for breach of duty under Article 74 of the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991 has not been definitively decided by the Jersey Royal Court. However, the UK High Court recently found that the prescription period for claims against directors of Jersey companies for breach of their duties under Article 74 was 10 years. While this decision is not binding on the Jersey courts, it is likely to carry considerable weight.
MONEYVAL's 2015 inspection of Jersey's anti-money laundering regime and its subsequent report issued in May 2016 encouraged Jersey legislators and regulators to actively prosecute more financial crime and, in particular, introduce a non-conviction-based confiscation regime to apply in parallel with the conviction-based system. The Draft Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) Jersey Law is a paradigm shift in regulatory approach to achieve the objectives set by MONEYVAL.
As a jurisdiction, Jersey is at the heart of cross-border insolvency and restructuring. Inevitably, situations arise where insolvent companies' assets or important evidence are located overseas, or an overseas liquidation regime would be best for creditors. Conversely, there will be situations where a foreign insolvency process requires steps to be taken in Jersey.
The next phase of the Charities (Jersey) Law 2014 was enacted on May 1 2018, allowing entities to finally register as charities under the law. The remaining provisions of the law are expected to come into force on January 1 2019, which will amend Jersey taxation legislation in relation to charities. This is an exciting opportunity for Jersey to reinforce and develop its status as a centre of excellence for philanthropy both in private wealth management and impact investing.
Effective from September 1 2018, the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 will be amended to include disability as a protected characteristic. The amending regulations will give individuals the right to complain to the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal when they believe that they have experienced discrimination. While many employers and groups will be familiar with the way that the regulations work, they should be taking steps to ensure that they are compliant ahead of the implementation date.
The revised Jersey Financial Services Commission codes of practice came into force on March 21 2018. As a matter of urgency, regulated businesses should therefore review the changes to the codes and consider whether any new implementation measures are necessary. The changes to the codes have considered industry feedback and include both new and revised regulations to align Jersey with the Group of International Finance Centre Supervisors standard.
The use of private trust companies is becoming more common as a method of retaining family control through the generations. This, of course, all needs to be balanced against tax and reporting considerations, as well as practical ones. That said, however good the adviser, it is difficult to plan for family disputes; therefore, the main emphasis should be on maintaining flexibility so that the trustee can react to changes of circumstances and wealth passing through the generations.
The Capacity and Self-Determination (Jersey) Law, which is due to come into effect in October 2018, will give people the opportunity, while they still have the capacity, to make their own decisions regarding their financial and personal affairs and welfare. It provides a framework that will give people the opportunity to make their own decisions in respect of medical treatment insofar as possible, including advance decisions to refuse treatment.
The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) recently published its Supervisory Examination Guide. The guide, which is effective immediately, gives a detailed overview of the supervisory examinations conducted by the JFSC. Examinations are a key tool used by the JFSC to detect and deter breaches of regulatory standards and improve compliance.
An unmarried couple, both with housing qualifications, can buy property in joint names and have the security of jointly owning their home. For unmarried couples where only one partner has housing qualifications, the position is more difficult. For freehold property, only the qualified partner can own it. It is therefore important that couples in this situation enter into an equity agreement in order to protect the unqualified partner's position so far as legally possible.
An adopted child is treated in law as the biological child of his or her adoptive parents and not the child of any other person. In terms of inheritance, this means that any reference to 'children' in adoptive parents' will or wills includes adopted children. If the parents do not leave a will or wills, the adopted child will have the same legal right to benefit from their estates as any biological child would have.
Employers can enforce dress codes only within the confines of the discrimination law. For example, a requirement for a female receptionist to wear high heels is illegitimate since no equivalent requirement is placed on male employees. Employers that want to enforce a dress code should consider the discrimination law and whether their proposals meet it. A recent Jersey case illustrates how this works.
Jersey is a separate legal jurisdiction from the United Kingdom, with a separate body of law. Many clients do not realise this, which can cause issues when it comes to administering their estates. The law of succession and probate in Jersey differs significantly from that in the United Kingdom and creates responsibilities for the executors and administrators of those who leave behind assets in Jersey.
Many people do not realise what is involved in administering a person's estate until they have to do it themselves and they encounter a minefield of previously unknown terminology and complex legal procedures. For example, in Jersey, 'probate' is the term used for both the grant of probate itself and the process of applying for the right to deal with the estate of someone who has passed away.
The Capacity and Self-Determination (Jersey) Law 2016, due to come into effect in April 2018, will be a long overdue update to the old customary laws. This new law will give people the opportunity, while they still have capacity, to make decisions regarding their financial and personal affairs and welfare which will take effect should they lose capacity. There are also likely to be amendments to the Wills and Succession (Jersey) Law 1993, which was the subject of an independent report in 2015.
The Royal Court recently assessed a case where the representor of a trust had sought to retire as trustee and provided the notice required under the terms of the trust to the company. Despite the fact that the trustee had reminded the company, no replacement was lined up when the company was dissolved. The case focused on the distinction between a trustee's fiduciary responsibilities and its powers and discretions provided for by the terms of a trust.
Lawyers are often asked to review employment contracts, including post-termination restrictions. It is increasingly common to see covenants that either restrict the former employee from holding any interest in a competing business or limit the amount of shareholding that they can have. If a contract uses this language, it could lead to the entire restrictive covenant being unenforceable.
The procedure governing the reinstatement of a dissolved Jersey limited company is contained in the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991. Where a company has been dissolved or, most commonly, struck off the register by the registrar of companies after failing to file an annual return, the Royal Court has the power to declare the dissolution void and order the reinstatement of the company.