The Jersey Court of Appeal recently handed down a long-awaited judgment in the Z Trusts case. The decision considers important questions regarding the equitable rights of former trustees and whether those rights have priority over the rights of other claimants to the assets of a trust (including successor trustees) whose liabilities exceed its assets. As such, trustees must consider the practical implications of this judgment and whether and how they should be mitigated.
The Jersey Royal Court recently ruled on the extent of its powers to restrict a party that withdraws proceedings to start afresh in a judgment that considered, for the first time, the implications of a 2014 English Court of Appeal decision on the public interest in there being finality in litigation. This is an important decision for maintaining the public interest in the finality of litigation and the efficient administration of justice.
The first-ever challenge to a decision of Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman Douglas Melville has been heard by the Jersey Royal Court. The court upheld the ombudsman's decision that local mortgage broker and lender Future Finance pay two individuals more than £63,000 in compensation.
Anyone that has been refused planning or building permission or disagrees with a condition that has been attached to a planning or building permission or anyone that owns or occupies a building or land where a building, place or tree has been listed can appeal against a planning decision. However, Jersey planning appeals raise numerous questions regarding costs and the appeal process.
The Taxation Law 2019 has introduced new economic substance requirements which apply to certain Jersey tax-resident companies. The requirements were passed to comply with the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation for the purpose of demonstrating that the profits generated by Jersey companies which carry on certain specified geographically mobile activities are commensurate with their economic activities and substantial economic presence in Jersey.
Jersey's environmental legislation covers areas including water pollution, nuisance, planning, wildlife and waste disposal. Further, the minister for planning and the environment has the power to exercise enforcement in a number of ways. This system ensures that all development within Jersey is carried out in accordance with the local legislation and any specific conditions imposed by the minister. However, even with active and engaged enforcement, legislation can only go so far.
A recent Royal Court judgment has indicated that delays in bringing an application to set aside a transfer of property to a Jersey trust due to mistake will be considered by the court when exercising its discretion as to whether to grant relief. In particular, this decision clarifies that delay is a factor that the court will consider when determining whether the mistake is of so serious a character as to render it just to make a declaration setting aside a disposition into trust.
Personal assets that most commonly need to be accessed in Jersey following the death of a non-domiciled person are shares in Jersey companies and Jersey bank accounts and investments. If individuals are domiciled outside Jersey, they need not prepare a separate will to cover their Jersey personal estate if they already have a valid one which covers their worldwide personal estate; however, doing so can offer significant benefits.
A recent Royal Court decision arose out of an attempt by the settlors of trusts to exercise their power to revoke the trusts. The trustee in this case was concerned and so petitioned the Royal Court for directions. Among other things, the court's decision highlights that trustees should be aware of how a trust fund might be distributed on revocation of a trust. Trustees should also review their terms and conditions of business to ensure that they are protected against any potential adverse consequences.
It is fair to say that the term 'asset protection trust' has developed as an informal description of a trust, the primary purpose of which is to safeguard trust assets from claims made by creditors and others usually against the settlor or beneficiaries of a trust. This article discusses what an asset protection trust is and what, over and above a normal trust, it is seeking to achieve. It also considers to what extent a Jersey trust, once established, will protect assets from creditor claims.
New proposed requirements for an economic substance test for Jersey tax-resident entities have been published to meet the requirements of the EU Code of Conduct Group. Fund vehicles themselves are out of scope, but it is expected that most fund manager clients will be in scope. Therefore, consideration will need to be given to the level of activity carried out in Jersey, with specific consideration being given to outsourcing arrangements.
New proposed requirements for an economic substance test for Jersey tax-resident entities have been published to meet the requirements of the EU Code of Conduct Group. Among other things, specific consideration should be given to outsourcing arrangements, to each company within a relevant structure and to updating policies and procedures.
New proposed requirements for an economic substance test for Jersey tax-resident entities have been published to meet the requirements of the EU Code of Conduct Group. The reforms are set to come into force on 1 January 2019, subject to approval by the States of Jersey, and establish new tests for certain tax-resident companies carrying on relevant activities in respect of demonstrating that they are directed and managed in Jersey, and that their core income generating activities are undertaken here.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.