Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

Contributed by Lennox Paton
Has COVID-19 affected real estate transactions?
  • Bahamas
  • 28 May 2020

Restrictions on both domestic and international travel, lockdowns and curfews have been imposed in The Bahamas to restrict movement in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While law firms have had to close their physical doors to the general public, real estate and resort development attorneys have embraced new and efficient procedures for closing transactions.

What impact could COVID-19 have on leases?
  • Bahamas
  • 21 May 2020

The government recently announced an ambitious rental assistance programme to assist tenants who have been economically affected by COVID-19 and are unable to satisfy their contractual obligation to pay rent. However, many pundits have questioned the legality of rental assistance during a state of emergency.

At a glance: COVID-19 court protocols
  • Bahamas
  • 14 May 2020

COVID-19 has forced society to embrace all things technological and forced individuals to adapt to working remotely. As it stands, court operations before the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court are restricted to essential services until the first working day after the expiry of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No 2) Order 2020, which may be extended by amendments. This article sets out what is permitted according to the judiciary's latest Mitigation Protocols concerning civil and commercial matters.

COVID-19: lay-offs, short time and redundancies – what you need to know
  • Bahamas
  • 09 April 2020

In times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike need to be aware of their rights and obligations. Employers should ensure that lay-off or short-time actions are taken with due consideration and in accordance with the Employment Act. Employees should be prepared for the possibility of being laid off or put on short time and, understanding their options under the law, work with their employer to produce the best outcome for both parties.

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.


Belize

Contributed by Courtenay Coye LLP
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.

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.


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.

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
COVID-19 restructuring and corporate recovery measures
  • Cayman Islands
  • 28 May 2020

The government recently held a virtual meeting with the heads and delegates of financial services industry associations in Cayman to allow it to engage with them directly on various COVID-19-related business continuity plans relating to the financial services industry. It is hoped that any chosen actions will be taken swiftly, consistent with the government's stated desire of assisting users of the financial products that the jurisdiction offers.

Use of digital contracts and electronic signatures
  • Cayman Islands
  • 21 May 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many people now working remotely, companies are increasingly considering the use of digital contracts and electronic signatures. To help minimise disruption and ensure business continuity, this article summarises the legal position in the Cayman Islands and provides practical advice on implementation.

Essential considerations for Cayman funds in challenging times
  • Cayman Islands
  • 14 May 2020

To help Cayman hedge funds navigate the myriad issues brought about by COVID-19, this article offers a high-level checklist for fund directors and investment managers to consider. The checklist covers operational issues, issues around liquidity and possible termination and communication and reporting considerations. Each of these topics is considered in turn in relation to a typical standalone corporate open-ended Cayman fund. That said, most of the checks can be applied using a variety of Cayman vehicles.

Putting a will in place during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Cayman Islands
  • 07 May 2020

Among myriad other things, the COVID-19 situation demonstrates the importance of having an up-to-date, valid will. Luckily, those who are not frontline or essential workers but are spending their time in lockdown or self-isolation may now have time to catch up on this life admin task. However, due to the current restrictions, making a will is likely to take a different format than normal.

Privilege in settlement discussions: without prejudice?
  • Cayman Islands
  • 30 April 2020

Without prejudice privilege attaches to written or oral communications made for the purpose of a genuine attempt to compromise a dispute between parties. The effect of this rule is that such communications are generally not admissible in evidence. As demonstrated by a recent Grand Court decision, the protection provided by without prejudice privilege is important, but can be a complicated area to navigate.