The Supreme Court recently dealt, for the first time, with the judicial authorisation of a transfer of shares with restricted transferability in joint stock companies. The court's legal reasoning will be of great interest, especially for parties undertaking transactions where only a block of shares is sold and a transfer restriction is included in the articles of association, as is often the case in Austria.
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.
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.
In a judgment which is likely to have wide-ranging implications for local companies subject to the '60/40 rule', the Privy Council recently held that local companies may confer on non-Bermudians "de facto control by commercial arrangements", provided that non-Bermudians have no control over the manner in which directors and shareholders vote.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to considerable financial and operational losses in several economic sectors. In this context, it is easy to imagine dispute scenarios involving manager liability – for example, with respect to their adoption of loss-mitigation measures which later result in a loss of revenue. In such situations, it would be difficult to ascertain which losses were actually attributable to the company's managers and which were exclusively a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against the backdrop of differing economies, laws and regulations throughout Asia, choosing to incorporate Cayman entities into holding and investment structures allows international stakeholders to cooperate under the aegis of a stable and effective judicial system. Through its court system, the Cayman Islands can provide the investment community with impartial, established and highly regarded judicial resources dedicated to resolving complex commercial disputes.
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.
The Foundation Companies Law 2017 was a welcome addition to the Cayman Islands legal landscape. The law introduced a brand new legal entity known as the 'foundation company' – a remarkably flexible vehicle that operates like an incorporated trust, allowing it to function like a civil law foundation or common law trust while retaining the separate legal personality and limited liability of a company.
Section 238 of the Companies Law (2020 Revision) provides an avenue through which shareholders of a merged or consolidated Cayman Islands company can apply to have the fair value of their shares determined by the Grand Court. Section 238 has its origins in Delaware law and was first introduced into the Cayman Islands Companies Law in 2009. After a relatively uneventful first few years in operation, Section 238 is now at the forefront of jurisprudence.