Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

Contributed by Lennox Paton
Public Procurement Act 2021: obtaining government contracts
  • Bahamas
  • 10 June 2021

The government has been criticised both locally and internationally in relation to the transparency and procedure surrounding the procurement of government contracts. Partly as a result of this criticism, the government has enacted the Public Procurement Act 2021, which seeks to modernise the government's use of public funds in its procurement process and add a heightened level of transparency.

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.


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.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Ogier
Court of Appeal finds that Norwich Pharmacal relief is available in aid of foreign proceedings
  • Cayman Islands
  • 17 June 2021

The Court of Appeal has found that the Cayman courts have jurisdiction to grant a Norwich Pharmacal order in support of potential proceedings before a foreign court, even where alternative statutory remedies may be available. The decision confirms a departure in Cayman law from the law in England and Wales, which is perhaps surprising in circumstances where the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction itself derives from a decision of the UK House of Lords.

Grand Court strikes out creditor's winding-up petition and comments on relationship with arbitration clauses
  • Cayman Islands
  • 10 June 2021

The Grand Court recently struck out a winding-up petition presented against Grand State Investments Limited by a shareholder claiming a debt on the ground that the alleged debt was disputed on bona fide and substantial grounds. In addition, the court went on to hold that, had the petition not been struck out, it would have been stayed anyway in favour of arbitration.

Frozen in time: do limitation periods apply to claims against Cayman companies in liquidation?
  • Cayman Islands
  • 03 June 2021

Previously, it was generally understood that the Cayman approach to claims against companies in liquidation followed the English position on the issue of limitation – that is, the limitation period ceased to run once the company went into liquidation, with some exceptions. However, the Grand Court recently challenged this assumption and reinterpreted the principles from the English authorities on this important point.

Approach to interest and costs in Section 238 proceedings confirmed
  • Cayman Islands
  • 27 May 2021

The Grand Court recently confirmed and clarified how interest on awards in Section 238 proceedings is to be calculated and how the costs of such proceedings are to be determined. The judgment, which will be welcomed by dissenting shareholders, clarifies that the midpoint approach is the correct methodology for determining the fair rate of interest payable in Section 238 proceedings. However, the precise midpoint will always be fact specific and is likely to be the subject of expert evidence in most cases.

Deadline extended for first filing of audited accounts and associated FAR form by private funds
  • Cayman Islands
  • 20 May 2021

The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority recently issued an industry notice regarding fund annual return (FAR) filings for private funds registered under the Private Funds Act (Revised) (private funds). The notice confirms that the deadline for the first filing of audited accounts and the associated FAR form by all private funds has been extended to 30 September 2021.


Cyprus

Contributed by A G Paphitis & Co
Employing a holding company as a family investment company: how does it compare to a family trust?
  • Cyprus
  • 04 March 2021

Given the strengthening of the rules on corporate tax avoidance, individuals must consider better estate protection strategies and undertake legitimate tax and tax avoidance planning. Family trusts are deeply embedded in estate planning, but the Cyprus holding company may also be utilised as a family investment company as an alternative to a family trust. The question of which one to opt for depends on individual family circumstances, objectives and investment strategies.

Does Cyprus law allow wills to be signed electronically?
  • Cyprus
  • 12 November 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 and continuation of social distancing measures have brought to light a variety of issues concerning the signing and execution of wills. Consequently, the legal world has had to resort to digital means in order to sign such documents. One of the key digital means is the use of electronic signatures instead of handwritten or wet-ink signatures.

Individual investment in Cyprus during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Cyprus
  • 11 June 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused global economic turmoil, Cyprus is also facing challenges owing to the global interconnectedness of its economy. However, the government is working closely with the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency to support the revival of the economy and has taken measures to protect the value of individual investments during this economic crisis.

Benefits of Cyprus international trust regime
  • Cyprus
  • 27 February 2020

The Cyprus International Trusts Law is one of the world's most attractive legal frameworks, as it builds on the well-established English principles of equity and trusts. Under this framework, Cyprus international trusts can be created in most complex situations and enjoy many advantages that cannot be found in aggregate in other trust jurisdictions.

Recent changes to inheritance and succession law
  • Cyprus
  • 19 September 2019

Cyprus has a complicated system of forced heirship in which a portion of a deceased's estate must be effectively passed to surviving family members according to a set system of inheritance. This forced heirship regime means that even if a deceased writes a will leaving a certain portion of their estate as gift to their spouse, their wishes will be deemed invalid if there are natural children who are entitled to a fixed minimum percentage of the estate.