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30 March 2020
In the interests of protecting the public and ensuring the continuity of business in Bermuda as it responds to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Bermuda Registrar of Companies and the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) have issued the following information.(1)
The Registrar of Companies, in keeping with other government departments, has implemented contingency measures to protect staff and members of the public. All but essential staff will be working remotely, at least until 6 April 2020. Essential services remain available, although there may be some delay to usual processing times.
Electronic filing protocols are now in place at the Registrar of Companies in order to accept filings and payment of associated filing fees, including in respect of:
Certificates of compliance requests and company name reservations may also be submitted electronically, as usual.
Searches of public files at the Registrar of Companies have generally been discontinued due to the necessary closure of government offices, although certain records may be provided electronically if necessary.
In relation to the application of economic substance requirements, in line with its overall approach to compliance assessment, the registrar will take a practical approach in light of all appropriate circumstances. As such, where physical meetings or other similar measures are impossible due to necessary travel or quarantine restrictions, this will be taken into account by the registrar in its assessment of activities for this financial period. Entities should carefully document any such measures and otherwise continue to ensure their ongoing compliance with the economic substance requirements in line with the applicable guidance notes.
The BMA has activated its business continuity plan and implemented social distancing protocols and remote working options, such as telephone and video conferencing, for all external meetings.
In relation to regulatory requirements associated with the need to hold board or committee meetings in Bermuda, the BMA has acknowledged that physical meetings in Bermuda may be impossible and has assured regulated entities that it will not seek to enforce such requirements during the first half of 2020. The BMA has reminded entities that meetings should nonetheless continue to be held via audio or video conferencing to ensure that appropriate management and oversight continues uninterrupted.
Insurance groups, insurers and insurance intermediaries may request a one-month extension for their respective annual statutory filing dates, and the usual fee for any such request will be waived.
For further information on this topic please contact Mary V Ward, Gavin Woods or Michael Frith at Carey Olsen Bermuda by telephone (+1 441 542 4500) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Carey Olsen Bermuda website can be accessed at www.careyolsen.com.
(1) Further information is available here.
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Mary V Ward