Private Client & Offshore Services, Bahamas updates

New legislation aims to promote proper use of environment
Lennox Paton
  • 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.

COVID-19: force majeure and contract frustration
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 01 October 2020

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.

Guide to purchasing property in The Bahamas
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 27 August 2020

A second home in The Bahamas has been a highly sought-after commodity for international buyers from time immemorial. The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation of 700 islands and cays, with each island providing its own charm and unique Bahamian culture. As the value of real property in the jurisdiction tends to hold or gradually appreciate over time, the purchase of real property remains a viable and attainable wealth-creating mechanism.

Tax consequences of transferring Bahamian real property held by a company for estate planning purposes
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 23 July 2020

Bahamian real property is commonly held by a company which is incorporated in The Bahamas or another jurisdiction whose shares may be held by an individual or their nominee. A 'beneficial owner' is any person who is beneficially interested in the real property, including a beneficiary under a trust. This article considers the tax consequences of transferring Bahamian real property held by a company for estate planning purposes.

COVID-19: summary of legislation enacted in relation to corporate regulations and businesses
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 04 June 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor general declared a public state of emergency and implemented the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020. Pursuant to the regulations, the prime minister implemented the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (2) Order 2020 and the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (Special Provisions) Order 2020. This article provides a summary of the provisions contained in the orders.

Has COVID-19 affected real estate transactions?
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 28 May 2020

Restrictions on both domestic and international travel, lockdowns and curfews have been imposed in The Bahamas to restrict movement in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While law firms have had to close their physical doors to the general public, real estate and resort development attorneys have embraced new and efficient procedures for closing transactions.

What impact could COVID-19 have on leases?
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 21 May 2020

The government recently announced an ambitious rental assistance programme to assist tenants who have been economically affected by COVID-19 and are unable to satisfy their contractual obligation to pay rent. However, many pundits have questioned the legality of rental assistance during a state of emergency.

At a glance: COVID-19 court protocols
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 14 May 2020

COVID-19 has forced society to embrace all things technological and forced individuals to adapt to working remotely. As it stands, court operations before the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court are restricted to essential services until the first working day after the expiry of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No 2) Order 2020, which may be extended by amendments. This article sets out what is permitted according to the judiciary's latest Mitigation Protocols concerning civil and commercial matters.

COVID-19: lay-offs, short time and redundancies – what you need to know
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 09 April 2020

In times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike need to be aware of their rights and obligations. Employers should ensure that lay-off or short-time actions are taken with due consideration and in accordance with the Employment Act. Employees should be prepared for the possibility of being laid off or put on short time and, understanding their options under the law, work with their employer to produce the best outcome for both parties.

Special tax relief for Abaco and Grand Bahama
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 30 January 2020

To encourage the rebuilding effort in Abaco, Grand Bahama and the surrounding Cays after Hurricane Dorian, tax relief is now available for real property tax, value added tax (VAT) on the conveyance of real property, business licence tax and certain import duties and VAT, provided that certain conditions are met.

Supreme Court identifies its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust arbitration proceedings
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 29 August 2019

The Supreme Court recently clarified its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust-related arbitrations, ruling that it has no such jurisdiction to allow service outside an action's jurisdiction. Given this ruling, parties to trust arbitration agreements must be cognisant that, notwithstanding whether their trust deeds provide for the seat of any arbitration to be The Bahamas, the court can provide only limited assistance where the arbitration is not held and the parties or assets are not in The Bahamas.

Privy Council determines extraterritorial reach of clawback claims in insolvency proceedings
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 22 August 2019

The Privy Council has determined that, notwithstanding the absence of express statutory provisions permitting service out of the jurisdiction of fraudulent preference claims, such claims are to have extraterritorial effect. This decision clarifies the law as it relates to the extraterritorial effect of fraudulent preference claims; however, it also creates difficulties for subscribers to mutual funds that may be held liable for investments made on behalf of third-party beneficiaries that are the ultimate recipients of payments.

New tax reforms in effect
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 18 July 2019

In the 2019/2020 Budget Communication the government announced various tax reforms which came into effect on 1 July 2019. Among other things, the cap on owner-occupied property has increased from B$50,000 to B$60,000 per year and stamp duty on real property has been replaced by value added tax (VAT) at the same rates. Further, any party that is required to become a VAT registrant must have a business licence.

Extinguishment of purchasers' rights – importance of priority in unregistered land systems
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 20 June 2019

The Bahamas has an unregistered land system that is based on the conveyancing laws of England and Wales issued before 1925. Therefore, deeds and documents should be recorded in the Registry of Records in The Bahamas as soon as possible. Priority becomes particularly important in high-net-worth commercial and condominium development transactions.

Register of Beneficial Ownership Act: a new day for beneficial owners
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 09 May 2019

Since 2001 international organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force have pressured offshore financial centres to pass legislation in order to increase transparency within their financial services sectors. As such, the Register of Beneficial Ownership Act recently came into effect in The Bahamas. The act seeks to create a private search registry containing details of beneficial owners of domestic and international companies in The Bahamas.

Bahamian insolvency regime continues to promote judicial efficiency
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 28 February 2019

The Bahamian legislature continues to examine its existing legislation for ways to promote judicial efficiency by amending and implementing new procedures in its insolvency regime. As the global economy continues to grow and foreign companies and investors increasingly face obstacles arising from the use of offshore structures, the need for cross-border insolvency proceedings and the use of protection afforded to investors will likely continue to increase.

Buying real estate – when to engage an attorney?
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 21 February 2019

After finding the ideal property to purchase, what is the next step? Engage an attorney. An attorney can help to connect real estate buyers with key service providers in order to arrange, among other things, home inspections or insurance. Involving an attorney will make the difference between a smooth transaction that meets the expectations of the buyer versus one that is fraught with issues, unrealistic expectations and other obstacles which could have been avoided with the benefit of early advice and proper planning.

Foreign direct investment in real estate market
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 14 February 2019

Foreign direct investment (FDI) remains one of the key catalysts to the Bahamian economy's growth and sustainability. The Bahamas National Investment Policy seeks to boost the economy through investments and provide favourable returns for investors. To this end, it encourages FDI in key areas in the real estate market, including tourist resorts, upscale condominiums, timeshares and second-homes and marinas.

Supreme Court evaluates scope of trustees' protection in contentious trust litigation
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 09 August 2018

The Supreme Court recently assessed the protection afforded to trustees by virtue of Section 83 of the Trustee Act 1998, which provides that a trustee cannot be bound or compelled by way of discovery to disclose information and documents about a trust. In Dawson-Damer, a trustee had used Section 83(8) as a basis to refuse a disclosure request. The applicant's case was built primarily on the allegation of a breach of duty (ie, the trustee had failed to consider the applicant's needs).

Payment of preferential debts out of assets subject to floating charge not permitted
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 26 October 2017

The Supreme Court recently considered whether preferential creditors have any claim against the moneys received by receiver-managers for the sale of assets subject to a charge. The court determined that a floating charge which crystallised before the making of a winding-up order takes priority over other creditors.

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