The BVI Commercial Court has provided helpful guidance as to the threshold for a good arguable case, dismissing an application to discharge a worldwide freezing injunction obtained by a claimant. The court held that where there is a good arguable case that a defendant has acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or with "unacceptable low standards of morality giving rise to a feeling of uneasiness about the defendant", further evidence is often unnecessary to justify a freezing injunction.
International litigation and asset recovery require the pursuit of defendants and their assets across borders; therefore, it is a routine aspect of BVI litigation for claimants to serve legal documents abroad. Two recent decisions should significantly decrease the delay in effecting service abroad and pave the way for a more efficient approach to service out in the future.
In the latest judgment regarding the DPH liquidation, the BVI Court of Appeal upheld the appointment of BVI provisional liquidators in respect of a Swiss company and clarified that evidence of dissipation of assets (in the Mareva sense) may not be a pre-condition to the appointment of provisional liquidators.
In Nord Anglia the justice made directions orders regarding the use of keyword searches, the number and scope of information requests, and the conduct of management meetings consistent with the orders made in Xiadu Life Technology. Further, the judgment will provide welcome safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation in the Cayman Islands if adopted on a wider basis.
A recent BVI Court of Appeal judgment was issued on a point rarely taken: is leave required to file a counter notice to an existing appeal? The full court found that once an appeal has been commenced with leave, the court's jurisdiction is engaged and the party wishing to cross-appeal may do so by counter notice without bringing a separate leave application. The court described a counter notice as being by its nature "parasitical on a pending appeal".
Some critics have labelled Macau's functioning legal and financial framework as a legal impediment to financial innovation and change; however, it could be suggested that a number of recent actions – including the authorisation of one public company limited by shares to provide payment services in relation to bank cards and another to provide payment services via the Internet and mobile phones – may result in innovation in the industry as a result of the Financial System Act.
Appeals to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal are regulated in the Cayman Islands (Appeals to Privy Council) Order 1984. However, the order does not provide for how to determine the date of a decision. The Court of Appeal recently ruled that for the purposes of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, time runs from the date on which an order is sealed or perfected, not the date on which the judgment is delivered.
A recent Court of Appeal decision serves as a useful reminder to keep an eye on the clock when seeking the appointment of liquidators to a company in the British Virgin Islands. The decision makes clear that any extension must be expressly granted and legal practitioners must therefore keep an eye on the clock to avoid a deemed dismissal under Section 168 of the Insolvency Act.
In a recent case, a petition to wind up a company was issued by its majority shareholder. The minority shareholder – a Samoan entity – issued an application to stay the petition on the basis that there were related proceedings in Samoa and held that Samoa was the proper forum in which to argue these matters. The court refused to grant the stay, finding that the high burden imposed in stay applications of this type had not been met.
Trusts remain a flexible succession planning tool for families wishing to pass wealth to future generations in a responsible manner and can include philanthropic goals. The wealth-creating settlor wants to establish such a trust in a jurisdiction with well-established trust laws, a stable business environment, responsive and efficient trust officers and clearly stated comprehensive annual fees. When comparing jurisdictions, the United States should be included.
The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands recently set aside service of proceedings against a foreign defendant, concluding that the plaintiff had abused the court process in pursuing the proceedings and failed to establish that the court should exercise its jurisdiction over the defendant. The court held that the defendant's immunity as the employee of a New Zealand crown entity was an "unplayable delivery" for the plaintiff and weighed heavily against the exercise of the court's exorbitant jurisdiction.
Claims of passing off are rare in the British Virgin Islands and a recent attempt to bring a BVI action in relation to goodwill held outside the jurisdiction has failed. The court examined the law and relevant English authorities on the tort of passing off. It opined that goodwill is governed by territoriality and that in order to succeed, the claimant must prove that it has goodwill in the form of customers in the jurisdiction in which the suit is undertaken.
The next phase of the Charities (Jersey) Law 2014 was enacted on May 1 2018, allowing entities to finally register as charities under the law. The remaining provisions of the law are expected to come into force on January 1 2019, which will amend Jersey taxation legislation in relation to charities. This is an exciting opportunity for Jersey to reinforce and develop its status as a centre of excellence for philanthropy both in private wealth management and impact investing.
The Finance (No 2) Act 2017 contains provisions requiring the disclosure of historic non-compliance to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs by September 30 2018 (ie, the requirement to correct rule). This is part of a range of legislation targeting offshore tax evasion. Defences for failing to comply with the requirement to correct are limited and it may be insufficient to have relied on legal or tax advice. Prompt action is required to potentially avoid very significant penalties.
Effective from September 1 2018, the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 will be amended to include disability as a protected characteristic. The amending regulations will give individuals the right to complain to the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal when they believe that they have experienced discrimination. While many employers and groups will be familiar with the way that the regulations work, they should be taking steps to ensure that they are compliant ahead of the implementation date.
It has long been argued that no sui generis category of litigants is exempt from the general rules of discovery, which aim to protect the integrity of the litigation process. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal recently released its decision in the appeal of a directions order, in which the contested issue was whether dissenting shareholders in appraisal actions under Section 238 of the Companies Law are required to give discovery.
A recent Grand Court of the Cayman Islands decision has confirmed that if a party pursues foreign proceedings in breach of a Cayman Islands exclusive jurisdiction (or similar) clause in a contract, that party faces the prospect of having to pay both the Cayman and foreign litigation costs of the counterparty on the indemnity basis.
In a partial ruling in Xiaodu Life Technology, the Cayman Islands Grand Court ruled on the scope of the company's discovery and the use of keyword searches; whether the number of information requests should be limited; and the number and conduct of management meetings, including whether they should be open or without prejudice.
The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has held that a liquidator cannot use his or her statutory power pursuant to Section 112(2) of the Companies Law to rectify the register of members where the effect would be to override investors' proprietary rights. It held that the section does not aim to provide for substitution of incorrect net asset value if, despite its incorrectness, it has been calculated in accordance with a member's contractual rights.
The Commercial Division of the BVI Court has granted a strike out application on the grounds that the Aldi Stores Ltd v WSP Group plc principles – whereby a party which intends to bring a subsequent action against existing parties must raise the issue with the court – apply in the British Virgin Islands. It held that while the principles may not have been promulgated in this jurisdiction, litigants must put their cards on the table at an early stage or risk being held to have abused the court's process.