Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

Contributed by Lennox Paton
Special tax relief for Abaco and Grand Bahama
  • Bahamas
  • 30 January 2020

To encourage the rebuilding effort in Abaco, Grand Bahama and the surrounding Cays after Hurricane Dorian, tax relief is now available for real property tax, value added tax (VAT) on the conveyance of real property, business licence tax and certain import duties and VAT, provided that certain conditions are met.

Supreme Court identifies its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust arbitration proceedings
  • Bahamas
  • 29 August 2019

The Supreme Court recently clarified its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust-related arbitrations, ruling that it has no such jurisdiction to allow service outside an action's jurisdiction. Given this ruling, parties to trust arbitration agreements must be cognisant that, notwithstanding whether their trust deeds provide for the seat of any arbitration to be The Bahamas, the court can provide only limited assistance where the arbitration is not held and the parties or assets are not in The Bahamas.

Privy Council determines extraterritorial reach of clawback claims in insolvency proceedings
  • Bahamas
  • 22 August 2019

The Privy Council has determined that, notwithstanding the absence of express statutory provisions permitting service out of the jurisdiction of fraudulent preference claims, such claims are to have extraterritorial effect. This decision clarifies the law as it relates to the extraterritorial effect of fraudulent preference claims; however, it also creates difficulties for subscribers to mutual funds that may be held liable for investments made on behalf of third-party beneficiaries that are the ultimate recipients of payments.

New tax reforms in effect
  • Bahamas
  • 18 July 2019

In the 2019/2020 Budget Communication the government announced various tax reforms which came into effect on 1 July 2019. Among other things, the cap on owner-occupied property has increased from B$50,000 to B$60,000 per year and stamp duty on real property has been replaced by value added tax (VAT) at the same rates. Further, any party that is required to become a VAT registrant must have a business licence.

Extinguishment of purchasers' rights – importance of priority in unregistered land systems
  • Bahamas
  • 20 June 2019

The Bahamas has an unregistered land system that is based on the conveyancing laws of England and Wales issued before 1925. Therefore, deeds and documents should be recorded in the Registry of Records in The Bahamas as soon as possible. Priority becomes particularly important in high-net-worth commercial and condominium development transactions.


Belize

Contributed by Courtenay Coye LLP
International arbitration: key legislative developments
  • Belize
  • 20 February 2020

Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980, it has become somewhat outdated. However, these amendments assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 into domestic law. In 2017 legislation was enacted that has directly affected the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Belize and abroad.

The importance of legal advice for timeshare rights
  • Belize
  • 16 July 2015

The Supreme Court recently highlighted the need to comply strictly with essential legal requirements when investing in property abroad. It found that US citizens who had purchased timeshare interests in a residential resort could not exercise their purported rights in priority of a bank's mortgage interest on the property because they had not registered their timeshares or paid the required stamp duty.

Directors' indemnities foolproof
  • Belize
  • 16 April 2015

The Belize Court of Appeal recently confirmed that indemnities given by a Belizean company to its directors deprived the company of a cause of action to pursue a claim against former directors for decisions taken during their term as company directors. Belize continues to recognise blanket indemnities given by a company to directors as legal.

Appeal Court clarifies procedural law on claims against foreign defendants
  • Belize
  • 04 September 2014

The Belize Court of Appeal has provided guidance to litigants involved in multi-jurisdictional litigation. The court interpreted the rules applicable to commencing a claim against foreign defendants, and service of a claim form and interim injunction on parties outside the jurisdiction. Under the Civil Procedure Rules there is no need to obtain permission to issue a claim form for service abroad.

Enforcement of LCIA award refused as contrary to public policy
  • Belize
  • 22 May 2014

The Caribbean Court of Justice has addressed the issue of whether New York Convention Awards should be enforced. The case is exceptional and should be confined to its unusual facts. However, it stands as highly persuasive authority for the proposition that violations of the constitutional order by a government when affording tax concessions to investors may afford a defence to enforcement of an arbitral award.


Bermuda

Contributed by Carey Olsen Bermuda
Blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation 2020
  • Bermuda
  • 20 February 2020

The current government was elected in 2017, having undertaken to create new economic pillars in Bermuda, identify new opportunities for economic diversification and seek local and overseas investment to develop new local industry and thereby create jobs in Bermuda. Since its election, the government has enthusiastically embraced the fintech sector and the potential that it offers and has repeatedly expressed its intention for Bermuda to be a significant centre for this industry.

Pension scheme amendments
  • Bermuda
  • 23 January 2020

Provisions of the National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment Act 2019 recently came into force. Employers should now be familiar with some of the upcoming changes, which include the requirement to keep records in relation to payroll and employee-related pension information.

Stable environment for high-net-worth private clients
  • Bermuda
  • 16 January 2020

High-net-worth families are increasingly seeking to establish or redomicile trusts and structures to politically, economically and socially stable tax neutral jurisdictions that are reputable and geographically well situated. Although the number of jurisdictions that meet these criteria may be dwindling, Bermuda has a long history of legal, political and social stability.

Enforcement of foreign arbitral awards
  • Bermuda
  • 10 October 2019

A recent Supreme Court judgment has once again confirmed Bermuda's status as a sophisticated, arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. It is a classic example of the Bermuda courts' robust approach when asked to enforce foreign arbitral awards against award debtors in Bermuda, even in circumstances where the award in question is being challenged by the award debtor in the courts of the seat, or legal place, of the arbitration.

Important decision concerning confirmation of actions by improperly appointed trustees
  • Bermuda
  • 15 August 2019

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.


British Virgin Islands

Taking charge: Commercial Court delivers judgment on its jurisdiction to grant charging orders
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 06 June 2019

The Commercial Court recently confirmed that the BVI courts have jurisdiction to grant charging orders. Charging orders are a critically important tool, particularly when enforcing foreign judgments, as they allow creditors to take a proprietary interest over assets owned by a debtor and can ultimately facilitate the sale of such assets to allow creditors to realise their debts.

Scope of disclosure orders and contempt of court
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 30 May 2019

A BVI court recently considered a contempt application seeking further disclosure by way of an 'unless' order and whether cross-examination of the respondents should be ordered to determine the issue of contempt. This decision highlights the exceptional nature of cross-examination orders and the high standard of proof required for contempt orders.

Relief all round – Court of Appeal upholds relief from sanction
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 02 May 2019

The BVI Court of Appeal recently denied an appellant declaratory relief and upheld the respondents' relief from sanction, as granted by the lower court. While this judgment will inevitably provide some comfort to those that find themselves facing sanctions having inadvertently failed to comply with a rule, practice direction or order, it is a timely reminder for everyone that it is better to remain vigilant and compliant than to rely on the court's jurisdiction to grant relief from sanction.

No more second chances: Court of Appeal guidance on strike out
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 25 April 2019

The Court of Appeal recently clarified the procedural considerations required following the strike out of an action pursuant to Civil Procedure Rule 26.3. All three of the appellants' procedural grounds of appeal were rejected by the court, which held that (among other things) a judge must give a party which has a defective pleading an opportunity to put right any defect.

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.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Ogier
New registration requirements for unregulated investment funds
  • Cayman Islands
  • 06 February 2020

The government recently approved the Private Funds Bill 2020 and an amendment to the Mutual Funds Law (2020 Revision). The legislation is the result of certain EU and other international recommendations and has been developed to align the Cayman Islands investment fund regulatory regime with those of other jurisdictions. This article summarises the key features of both pieces of legislation.

New opportunities for blockchain use in insurance industry
  • Cayman Islands
  • 16 January 2020

It has been more than a decade since blockchain – or distributed ledger technology – appeared on the financial services landscape. Yet, it is still capable of generating excitement as its value in transforming processes continues to develop. As blockchain increases its reach and its impact in specific industries grows, this will generate a need for suitable models of insurance. Cayman-based technology companies have expressed interest in buying insurance from local insurers.

Subscription-secured financings: perfection versus enforcement
  • Cayman Islands
  • 19 December 2019

The Cayman Islands is one of the leading jurisdictions in the world for the establishment of closed-ended investment funds. Funds are often formed as exempted limited partnerships (ELPs). While other types of Cayman vehicle can be, and are sometimes, used as fund vehicles depending on the circumstances, an ELP is by far the most common type of entity used. Consequently, this article focuses solely on subscription-secured financings with an ELP as the choice of fund vehicle.

Q&A on Cayman AML regime: service providers, delegation and risk-based approach
  • Cayman Islands
  • 13 June 2019

The government and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority are well aware that it is imperative that the Cayman Islands is not only perceived to, but does in fact, play a central role in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. At the same time, there is a deep understanding of the need to remain competitive and commercial. This article addresses a number of key questions concerning the 2018 amendments to Cayman's anti-money laundering regime.

Impact of evolving relationship between investors and managers on fund structuring
  • Cayman Islands
  • 06 June 2019

This article addresses how the landscape for the structuring of offshore investment funds established in the Cayman Islands is changing and how this change is being driven by the evolving relationship between investors and investment fund managers – in particular, how the balance of power has in many cases shifted from the manager to the investor.