Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

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

Privy Council clarifies Bahamian law on appealing interlocutory judgments
  • Bahamas
  • June 15 2017

There has been some debate over the lack of clarity regarding the concurrent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal as to where and when applications for leave to appeal and stays should be made. A recent Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruling has clarified this area of the law and given attorneys clear guidance regarding the proper procedure for appealing interlocutory judgments and applying for a stay pending appeal in the Bahamas.

Remittal of assets in cross-border insolvency proceedings
  • Bahamas
  • April 20 2017

The Bahamas Supreme Court recently considered the relationship between the statutory provisions in recognition proceedings which permit the turnover of property to a debtor (a foreign corporation or other foreign legal entity subject to a foreign proceeding in the country in which it is incorporated or established) and the common law power to direct remittal of assets to the foreign main proceedings where an ancillary liquidation is underway.

Hastings-Bass rule enshrined in law
  • Bahamas
  • April 13 2017

The recently enacted Trustee (Amendment) Act has clarified the law relating to trustee indemnities and given statutory effect to the rule in Re Hastings-Bass. With the passing of the act, the Bahamas has fortified its position as a leading offshore financial centre. It is expected that the codification of the rule will benefit trustees, protectors, beneficiaries and other persons who can apply to the court to unwind any perceived hard consequences flowing from an exercise of a fiduciary power.

Receiver-managers obtain court's blessing: self-dealing and fair-dealing rules not violated
  • Bahamas
  • December 15 2016

The joint receiver-managers of the assets of Baha Mar applied to the Supreme Court for a direction that the intended sale of Baha Mar's secured assets to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) would not amount to self-dealing or infringe the fair-dealing rule. The court was satisfied that the sale to the SPV was pursued by the joint receiver-managers in good faith and achieved after adequate precautions were taken to achieve the best price reasonably obtainable at the time.


Belize

Contributed by Courtenay Coye LLP
The importance of legal advice for timeshare rights
  • Belize
  • July 16 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.

Directors' indemnities foolproof
  • Belize
  • April 16 2015

The Belize Court of Appeal recently confirmed that indemnities given by a Belizean company to its directors deprived the company of a cause of action to pursue a claim against former directors for decisions taken during their term as company directors. Belize continues to recognise blanket indemnities given by a company to directors as legal.

Appeal Court clarifies procedural law on claims against foreign defendants
  • Belize
  • September 04 2014

The Belize Court of Appeal has provided guidance to litigants involved in multi-jurisdictional litigation. The court interpreted the rules applicable to commencing a claim against foreign defendants, and service of a claim form and interim injunction on parties outside the jurisdiction. Under the Civil Procedure Rules there is no need to obtain permission to issue a claim form for service abroad.

Enforcement of LCIA award refused as contrary to public policy
  • Belize
  • May 22 2014

The Caribbean Court of Justice has addressed the issue of whether New York Convention Awards should be enforced. The case is exceptional and should be confined to its unusual facts. However, it stands as highly persuasive authority for the proposition that violations of the constitutional order by a government when affording tax concessions to investors may afford a defence to enforcement of an arbitral award.

Caribbean Court of Justice rules government must arbitrate under treaty
  • Belize
  • August 08 2013

The Caribbean Court of Justice has delivered a landmark decision which narrows the circumstances in which a government may resort to its domestic courts to restrain international arbitration proceedings. The decision is an important victory for international investors in the Commonwealth Caribbean, since many bilateral investment treaties include clauses for resolution of disputes by international arbitration.


British Virgin Islands

Contributed by Harney Westwood & Riegels
Tick, tock – the need to keep an eye on the clock in liquidator applications
  • British Virgin Islands
  • May 24 2018

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.

Court strikes out passing-off claim in relation to goodwill held outside British Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • May 17 2018

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.

Substance of Aldi principles apply in British Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • April 19 2018

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.

Tax information exchange: an overview
  • British Virgin Islands
  • January 25 2018

The BVI tax information exchange system is largely modelled on international principles developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and is split into two types of regime. The 'automatic' exchange of information regime requires financial institutions to exchange formulistic data about the accounts of foreign taxpayers, while the 'on request' regime deals with specific and potentially in-depth investigations into the affairs of named taxpayers with offshore or international holdings.

Court of Appeal provides guidance on directors' powers
  • British Virgin Islands
  • January 18 2018

A recent Court of Appeal ruling provided guidance on directors' powers after considering whether a fresh issuance of shares by directors which altered the balance of voting power between the shareholders was done for a proper purpose. The court held that directors should not issue shares in a manner that could affect the balance of power between groups of shareholders or create new majorities, irrespective of whether the old or new majority have a proprietary interest in the fund.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Harney Westwood & Riegels LLP
Court reaffirms high threshold for case management stays
  • Cayman Islands
  • May 24 2018

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.

Proceedings bowled out after unplayable delivery
  • Cayman Islands
  • May 17 2018

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.

Court of Appeal rules on dissenters' discovery
  • Cayman Islands
  • May 10 2018

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.

Costs of breaching an exclusive jurisdiction clause: BDO Cayman v Argyle Funds
  • Cayman Islands
  • May 03 2018

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.

Dissenting shareholders: judicial management and e-discovery
  • Cayman Islands
  • April 26 2018

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.


Cyprus

Contributed by A G Paphitis & Co
Taxation of Cyprus international trusts
  • Cyprus
  • March 15 2018

Cyprus international trusts, which are subject to the International Trusts (Amendment) Law 1992, provide a significant number of tax advantages and can be used as part of an international tax planning strategy. In order to estimate the tax that should be imposed on a trust, its specifications, purpose and any other relevant circumstances must be considered.

Private investments in Cyprus – a bright future
  • Cyprus
  • December 14 2017

Cyprus saw its highest increase in gross domestic product in almost a decade in the first quarter of 2017. The dark days of the 2013 financial crisis appear to be in the past and foreign investment remains at the heart of government strategy, aided by factors such as the citizenship-by-investment programme, which will help to attract private investment in the property, retail and pharmaceutical sectors.

Tax residency can be obtained by staying in Cyprus for 60 days a year
  • Cyprus
  • September 07 2017

Foreign tax residents in Cyprus are exempt from taxation on their worldwide dividend and passive interest income. Parliament recently approved a bill granting tax resident status to individuals who spend at least 60 days a year in Cyprus, under certain conditions. Individuals who do not qualify as Cyprus tax residents under the 183-day rule now have the opportunity to consider the 60-day rule, which took effect on January 1 2017.

Cyprus international trusts – an overview
  • Cyprus
  • July 06 2017

Cyprus international trusts (CITs), also known as Cyprus offshore trusts, are regulated by the International Trusts Law, which complements the Trustees Law. CITs provide multiple benefits – such as anonymity, asset protection, flexibility and taxation incentives and benefits – which high-net-worth individuals around the world can use within the framework of their tax planning and investment strategies.

Cyprus offers tax exemption on worldwide income
  • Cyprus
  • June 01 2017

In order to provide high-net-worth individuals with additional incentives to relocate to Cyprus or continue conducting their business operations or investments in Cyprus, the government introduced non-domicile rules for the purposes of the Special Defence Contribution Tax Law. As a result, an individual may be resident, but not domiciled, in Cyprus. Tax residents who are not domiciled in Cyprus are exempted from the special defence contribution tax.