Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

Contributed by Lennox Paton
Homeowners Protection Act – time to revisit
  • Bahamas
  • 01 April 2021

The Homeowners Protection Act was designed to provide meaningful protection to homeowners by ensuring a true and proper discourse between borrowers and financial institutions and will likely become the epicentre of the mortgage market. However, the act has failed to achieve the balance that it sought to accomplish and is in dire need of reform.

Real Property Tax Forgiveness Programme 2021: overview
  • Bahamas
  • 25 March 2021

The prime minister recently announced a Real Property Tax Forgiveness Programme which will provide waivers to Bahamian and non-Bahamian property owners in The Bahamas who are in arrears. The programme is aimed at collecting outstanding property taxes in order to bring persons into compliance and increase government revenue. It will also assist in easing the financial burden on property owners which has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential economic downturn.

CESRA: economic substance reporting deadline extension
  • Bahamas
  • 21 January 2021

The Commercial Entities Substance Requirements Act (CESRA) 2018 requires all legal entities registered in The Bahamas to comply with economic substance reporting by submitting an annual filing to the minister of finance. Economic substance reporting under CESRA must be completed within nine months of the entity's fiscal year end; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline in respect of reporting for 2019 has been extended to 31 January 2021.

New legislation aims to promote proper use of environment
  • Bahamas
  • 03 December 2020

In December 2019 Parliament passed a package of environmental bills geared towards developing, reinforcing and strengthening the laws which promote and support the management, protection, enhancement and proper use of the Bahamian environment. This article provides an overview of the Environmental Planning and Protection Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

COVID-19: force majeure and contract frustration
  • Bahamas
  • 01 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted commercial activity on a global scale, challenging contracting parties' ability to fulfil their legal obligations. Force majeure clauses and frustration principles may provide some relief to those which may otherwise incur liability because of non-performance. However, there does not appear to be any clear case law precedent for COVID-19, so it is uncertain whether the pandemic will be deemed a frustrating event by the courts.


Belize

Contributed by Courtenay Coye LLP
Video link as a means of access to justice
  • Belize
  • 25 March 2021

Traditionally, in order for persons involved in litigation in the Supreme Court to participate in such proceedings – whether as a claimant, a defendant or even a witness – they had to be present in the court. At times, this strict requirement of personal presence served as a barrier to the ultimate goal of resolving disputes through litigation where persons involved therein were unable to attend the trial in person. Notably, the Civil Procedure Rules introduced the option to give evidence through a video link.

International arbitration: outlook
  • Belize
  • 05 March 2020

Foreign arbitration is seen as an alternative method of dispute resolution that may be preferred to litigation. However, Belize case law has identified the difficulties that might be encountered by an award holder in attempting to enforce an award. It is also arguable that the option of foreign arbitration has been undermined by the passing of the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act and the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act 2017.

International arbitration: local court developments
  • Belize
  • 27 February 2020

Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980 (1980 Ordinance), it has become somewhat outdated. However, the 1980 Ordinance assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the New York Convention into domestic law. This article looks at recent arbitration developments in the local courts, including cases concerning qualifications of or challenges to arbitrators and investor-state disputes.

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.


Bermuda

Employment law guide: responding to COVID-19
  • Bermuda
  • 26 March 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) was recently declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation. The situation continues to develop rapidly. Given the transient nature of the Bermuda workforce, Bermuda-based employers should consider taking steps now to manage risks both proportionately and sensibly. This article provides guidance to help Bermuda employers address some of the key queries and concerns.

COVID-19 company update
  • Bermuda
  • 26 March 2020

The Bermuda Registrar of Companies and the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) recently issued information on the steps that they have taken to protect the public and ensure the continuity of business in Bermuda as it responds to the coronavirus. The registrar has implemented contingency measures to protect staff and members of the public, while the BMA has activated its business continuity plan and implemented social distancing protocols and remote working options for all external meetings.

Implementation of Cape Town Convention in Bermuda
  • Bermuda
  • 19 March 2020

As a result of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment coming into force in Bermuda, leasing companies, owners, lenders and other parties that deal with Bermudian entities participating in aircraft transactions and/or aircraft registered in Bermuda may opt to take the additional steps necessary to obtain the protections conferred by the convention. This article revisits key points concerning the implementation of the convention and declarations relating thereto.

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.


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.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Ogier
Snapshot: notification injunctions
  • Cayman Islands
  • 15 April 2021

A notification injunction is an alternative to the conventional freezing order that is available where there is concern that a respondent may deal with their assets so as to frustrate the enforcement of any future judgment. This new breed of quia timet 'notification' injunction is to be welcomed: it represents a further weapon in the Cayman court's arsenal to assist litigants, particularly in fraud and asset tracing cases, to prevent the frustration of judgments.

Economic substance requirements: overview
  • Cayman Islands
  • 08 April 2021

The International Tax Cooperation (Economic Substance) Act reflected the Cayman Islands' commitment to its obligations as a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's global Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Inclusive Framework and corresponding EU requirements for no or nominal tax jurisdictions. This article summarises the key elements of the act and draws upon guidance issued by the Tax Information Authority.

Short-form mergers: Changyou.com judgment confirms appraisal rights
  • Cayman Islands
  • 01 April 2021

The Grand Court has confirmed that shareholders of companies that effect a short-form merger pursuant to Section 233(7) of Part XVI of the Companies Act (2021 Revision) are entitled to be paid the fair value of their shares on dissenting from the merger under Section 238 of the act. The eagerly awaited judgment in Changyou.com clarifies an issue which was previously the subject of extensive debate and provides welcome certainty to minority shareholders of Cayman companies.

Estate experiences: administering an estate with Cayman assets
  • Cayman Islands
  • 25 March 2021

In every case of an individual dying leaving assets in the Cayman Islands, some form of grant must be obtained in order for the Cayman assets to be legally administered. The Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction has a robust framework for resolving estate disputes. The availability of professional trustee service providers to be appointed as personal representatives and who can draw on their substantial executor and trusts experience in complex estates is also a huge advantage.

Commencing proceedings against a Cayman company in liquidation: having a case worth entertaining
  • Cayman Islands
  • 18 March 2021

The Grand Court recently considered the statutory moratorium against commencing proceedings against a Cayman company in liquidation. The court held that a plaintiff which launches originating proceedings against a company in liquidation, seeking adverse orders against that company, requires leave of the court to bring the proceedings. It also held that the plaintiffs in this case did not have "a case worth entertaining" in respect of either basis on which they had brought their applications.