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.
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.
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).
Crawford International recently appealed a judgment relating to the determination of a preliminary issue concerning the scope of a management contract. A preliminary objection was taken to the appeal on the basis that the judgment was interlocutory and no leave to appeal had been obtained. However, the appeal court determined that the judgment on the preliminary issue was final rather than interlocutory, and as such no leave was required.
Since the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act was implemented, the Bahamian courts have often been found to use a narrower interpretation of the act in order to prevent foreign courts from delving into the private affairs of individuals and companies (specifically their bank accounts), unless there is a strong argument otherwise.
In response to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's blacklisting of the Bahamas as an offshore investment jurisdiction due to lack of transparency in the international arena and the existence of various obstacles to mutual legal assistance, the Bahamian legislature has implementated various acts including the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act.