The recently enacted Companies (Demerger) (Jersey) Regulations introduce a new demerger regime for Jersey companies. The new regime will be of particular interest to those who use, or are considering using, Jersey companies in their structures. It makes the use of a Jersey company more flexible and has a range of potential uses, including implementing a pre-sale reorganisation.
Foundation companies are a unique structuring option in the Cayman Islands for wealth planning and also serve as holding and special purpose vehicles for commercial transactions and cryptocurrency offerings. Although a foundation company may be used as an alternative to a Cayman trust, a number of features specific to Cayman trust law have been incorporated into the foundation company vehicle which should prove beneficial to investors and private clients.
The Guernsey Financial Services Commission recently introduced the Guernsey Green Fund designation to provide investment managers with an opportunity to "assure investors that their investments are contributing to initiatives that have a positive environmental impact on the planet and in so doing inspire confidence that their investments are well regulated". The designation is available to registered and authorised schemes run in accordance with the Guernsey Green Fund Rules.
A variety of factors are fuelling a sustained boom in M&A activity around the world, including a number of mega-deals across a variety of sectors. Irrespective of deal size, a wide range of positive factors has driven deal volume. All of this is good news for the financial services community in Guernsey, which is seeing significant growth in work as a result – not least law firms with experienced M&A teams.
The Cayman Islands has become a popular choice for many businesses conducting initial coin offerings (ICOs) due to its tax neutrality, its reputation as a pre-eminent jurisdiction for investment funds and its securities law regime, which is generally more permissive than those of other jurisdictions. However, before any steps towards conducting an ICO are taken, it is critical that comprehensive legal and tax advice is obtained for each business before any token is sold or any entity is formed.
A recent Grand Court decision is significant for Cayman master-feeder fund structures. Funds and their advisers should review the redemption provisions in master fund articles of association and partnership agreements to ensure that, operationally, redemptions are being effected in accordance with such documents.
Limited partnerships in Jersey are governed by the Limited Partnerships (Jersey) Law 1994, as amended. The main feature of limited partnerships, as the name suggests, is the limited liability afforded to the limited partners. In addition, the law is highly flexible, such that the partners in a Jersey limited partnership are free to agree the terms attaching to the structure and operation of the partnership between them. For this reason, Jersey limited partnerships are popular vehicles.
The Office for the Environment and Infrastructure recently announced that a new deposit protection scheme will be planned before the end of 2018. The announcement follows news that a local estate agent has ceased trading, leaving some tenants and landlords uncertain of their position with regard to rents and deposits that were being held by that agent. The proposal is likely to be that Guernsey should introduce a similar, if not identical, scheme to that already in place in Jersey.
The Guernsey Court of Appeal recently handed down its long-awaited judgment in M v St Anne's Trustees. On appeal, neither party had challenged the Guernsey Royal Court's decision that Guernsey law should follow Pitt v Holt. Instead, they had focused on arguing that there had been a breach of fiduciary duty and that the Royal Court should have exercised its discretion to grant relief.
The Signing of Instruments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Jersey Law 2018 was recently passed to enable people to validly execute legal documents (eg, a will or power of attorney) when they are physically incapable of signing their name. It brings about the much-needed change in law that was brought to light in 2015, when a local resident passed away after a paralysis of his hands had rendered him physically – but not mentally – incapable of signing a will.
The Financial Intelligence Service's recent refusal to consent to a proposed transaction under Guernsey's anti-money laundering reporting regime has resulted in the Royal Court deciding its first private law action between the person claiming the asset and the financial institution holding it. The decision clarifies the legal framework for determining the source of funds, which will be highly relevant to all regulated entities in Guernsey.
The Jersey limitation period for claims against directors for breach of duty under Article 74 of the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991 has not been definitively decided by the Jersey Royal Court. However, the UK High Court recently found that the prescription period for claims against directors of Jersey companies for breach of their duties under Article 74 was 10 years. While this decision is not binding on the Jersey courts, it is likely to carry considerable weight.
In Summer 2017 Jersey's Royal Court Rules were amended and 11 new practice directions came into force. These aim to improve access to justice, streamline the civil justice process and, where possible, reduce the risks and costs associated with litigation by encouraging the early resolution of cases to avoid court proceedings.
As a jurisdiction, Jersey is at the heart of cross-border insolvency and restructuring. Inevitably, situations arise where insolvent companies' assets or important evidence are located overseas, or an overseas liquidation regime would be best for creditors. Conversely, there will be situations where a foreign insolvency process requires steps to be taken in Jersey.
MONEYVAL's 2015 inspection of Jersey's anti-money laundering regime and its subsequent report issued in May 2016 encouraged Jersey legislators and regulators to actively prosecute more financial crime and, in particular, introduce a non-conviction-based confiscation regime to apply in parallel with the conviction-based system. The Draft Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) Jersey Law is a paradigm shift in regulatory approach to achieve the objectives set by MONEYVAL.
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.
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.
The revised Jersey Financial Services Commission codes of practice came into force on March 21 2018. As a matter of urgency, regulated businesses should therefore review the changes to the codes and consider whether any new implementation measures are necessary. The changes to the codes have considered industry feedback and include both new and revised regulations to align Jersey with the Group of International Finance Centre Supervisors standard.
The use of private trust companies is becoming more common as a method of retaining family control through the generations. This, of course, all needs to be balanced against tax and reporting considerations, as well as practical ones. That said, however good the adviser, it is difficult to plan for family disputes; therefore, the main emphasis should be on maintaining flexibility so that the trustee can react to changes of circumstances and wealth passing through the generations.
The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) recently published its Supervisory Examination Guide. The guide, which is effective immediately, gives a detailed overview of the supervisory examinations conducted by the JFSC. Examinations are a key tool used by the JFSC to detect and deter breaches of regulatory standards and improve compliance.