Private Client & Offshore Services updates

Bahamas

Contributed by Lennox Paton
Tax consequences of transferring Bahamian real property held by a company for estate planning purposes
  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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
  • 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.


Belize

Contributed by Courtenay Coye LLP
International arbitration: outlook
  • Belize
  • 05 March 2020

Foreign arbitration is seen as an alternative method of dispute resolution that may be preferred to litigation. However, Belize case law has identified the difficulties that might be encountered by an award holder in attempting to enforce an award. It is also arguable that the option of foreign arbitration has been undermined by the passing of the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act and the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act 2017.

International arbitration: local court developments
  • Belize
  • 27 February 2020

Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980 (1980 Ordinance), it has become somewhat outdated. However, the 1980 Ordinance assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the New York Convention into domestic law. This article looks at recent arbitration developments in the local courts, including cases concerning qualifications of or challenges to arbitrators and investor-state disputes.

International arbitration: key legislative developments
  • Belize
  • 20 February 2020

Arbitration in Belize is governed by the Arbitration Act. As the act was last amended in 1980, it has become somewhat outdated. However, these amendments assisted in Belize's assimilation of a modern arbitration enforcement regime by incorporating the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 into domestic law. In 2017 legislation was enacted that has directly affected the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Belize and abroad.

The importance of legal advice for timeshare rights
  • Belize
  • 16 July 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
  • 16 April 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.


Bermuda

COVID-19 company update
  • Bermuda
  • 26 March 2020

The Bermuda Registrar of Companies and the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) recently issued information on the steps that they have taken to protect the public and ensure the continuity of business in Bermuda as it responds to the coronavirus. The registrar has implemented contingency measures to protect staff and members of the public, while the BMA has activated its business continuity plan and implemented social distancing protocols and remote working options for all external meetings.

Employment law guide: responding to COVID-19
  • Bermuda
  • 26 March 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) was recently declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation. The situation continues to develop rapidly. Given the transient nature of the Bermuda workforce, Bermuda-based employers should consider taking steps now to manage risks both proportionately and sensibly. This article provides guidance to help Bermuda employers address some of the key queries and concerns.

Implementation of Cape Town Convention in Bermuda
  • Bermuda
  • 19 March 2020

As a result of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment coming into force in Bermuda, leasing companies, owners, lenders and other parties that deal with Bermudian entities participating in aircraft transactions and/or aircraft registered in Bermuda may opt to take the additional steps necessary to obtain the protections conferred by the convention. This article revisits key points concerning the implementation of the convention and declarations relating thereto.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation 2020
  • Bermuda
  • 20 February 2020

The current government was elected in 2017, having undertaken to create new economic pillars in Bermuda, identify new opportunities for economic diversification and seek local and overseas investment to develop new local industry and thereby create jobs in Bermuda. Since its election, the government has enthusiastically embraced the fintech sector and the potential that it offers and has repeatedly expressed its intention for Bermuda to be a significant centre for this industry.

Pension scheme amendments
  • Bermuda
  • 23 January 2020

Provisions of the National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment Act 2019 recently came into force. Employers should now be familiar with some of the upcoming changes, which include the requirement to keep records in relation to payroll and employee-related pension information.


British Virgin Islands

Taking charge: Commercial Court delivers judgment on its jurisdiction to grant charging orders
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 06 June 2019

The Commercial Court recently confirmed that the BVI courts have jurisdiction to grant charging orders. Charging orders are a critically important tool, particularly when enforcing foreign judgments, as they allow creditors to take a proprietary interest over assets owned by a debtor and can ultimately facilitate the sale of such assets to allow creditors to realise their debts.

Scope of disclosure orders and contempt of court
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 30 May 2019

A BVI court recently considered a contempt application seeking further disclosure by way of an 'unless' order and whether cross-examination of the respondents should be ordered to determine the issue of contempt. This decision highlights the exceptional nature of cross-examination orders and the high standard of proof required for contempt orders.

Relief all round – Court of Appeal upholds relief from sanction
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 02 May 2019

The BVI Court of Appeal recently denied an appellant declaratory relief and upheld the respondents' relief from sanction, as granted by the lower court. While this judgment will inevitably provide some comfort to those that find themselves facing sanctions having inadvertently failed to comply with a rule, practice direction or order, it is a timely reminder for everyone that it is better to remain vigilant and compliant than to rely on the court's jurisdiction to grant relief from sanction.

No more second chances: Court of Appeal guidance on strike out
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 25 April 2019

The Court of Appeal recently clarified the procedural considerations required following the strike out of an action pursuant to Civil Procedure Rule 26.3. All three of the appellants' procedural grounds of appeal were rejected by the court, which held that (among other things) a judge must give a party which has a defective pleading an opportunity to put right any defect.

Misplaced trust – what happens when your trustee goes AWOL?
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 04 April 2019

In a recent case, an applicant succeeded in the increasingly commonplace but frustrating situation where the beneficiary of a revocable bare trust cannot obtain execution of the trust due to an uncooperative or defunct corporate nominee. The court ultimately granted the vesting order sought by the beneficial owner and appointed an insolvency practitioner as the statutory proper person.


Cayman Islands

Contributed by Ogier
Investment funds update: Q2 2020
  • Cayman Islands
  • 13 August 2020

Over the past quarter, the Cayman Islands enacted a number of changes to laws and regulations which affect, or will affect, Cayman funds, including with respect to the Private Funds Law, the administrative fines regime, disclosure requirements and the automatic exchange of information portal. This article is intended as a handy reference guide with respect to the recent changes and updates.

Administrative fines regime extended
  • Cayman Islands
  • 06 August 2020

The Monetary Authority (Administrative Fines) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 recently came into force, extending the administrative fines regime beyond breaches of the Anti-money Laundering Regulations to a much broader spectrum of breaches under various Cayman regulatory laws. Of particular interest to Cayman bank licensees will be how breaches of the Banks and Trust Companies Law will be treated under the regulations.

Insolvency and restructuring: segregated portfolio companies
  • Cayman Islands
  • 23 July 2020

May 2020 marked the 22nd anniversary of the Cayman Islands segregated portfolio company (SPC). This article reflects on the first two decades of the SPC – in particular, the principles established by the courts concerning insolvent SPCs. These cases have posed some interesting and novel questions for the Cayman courts to resolve and the decisions have fleshed out the statutory provisions as regards the status, duties and powers of office holders appointed in connection with SPCs.

New regulatory regime for virtual assets
  • Cayman Islands
  • 16 July 2020

The Cayman Islands recently introduced a new framework for regulating virtual asset businesses: the Virtual Assets (Service Providers) Law 2020. The law derives from recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force and provides for the regulation of virtual asset businesses and the registration and licensing of persons which provide virtual asset services. In addition, the government has amended a number of existing laws to extend to virtual assets.

Bank regulatory update
  • Cayman Islands
  • 09 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a number of operational and administrative challenges across the global legal and economic landscape. This article summarises some of the latest developments and the key issues relevant to financial institutions with legal and regulatory links to the Cayman Islands, including the validity and enforceability of electronic signatures and the Cayman Islands advisory on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism compliance.