Transcontinental Trusts Bermuda Forum Held

April 30, 2015

[Written by Kensley McDowall]

For the first time in 30 years the Transcontinental Trust Forum was put on outside of Europe and Bermuda has been the recipient.

This conference, the leading Trust event for Private Client professionals, has been developed by IBC Global Conferences an informa business based in the United Kingdom and is usually mounted in Europe. The leading partner in this two day venture, The Transcontinental Trust: Bermuda Forum 2015 which ended on Tuesday 28th April, was the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA].

The opening Key Note address was delivered by the Premier of Bermuda, the Hon. Michael Dunkley, JP, MP. He reminded attendees that Bermuda has a superior regulatory framework and judicial system, as well as internationally recognised trustees and lawyers that serve a broad spectrum of international businesses and high-net-worth clients.

He reassured attendees that Bermuda is committed to continuous improvement and expect to build on its successes with regular reviews of its trust industry offerings. He stated that Government is committed to nurturing and protecting Bermuda’s relationships with its Trust Industry partners and will continue to collaborate and consult and take the necessary actions to promote the fact that Bermuda is open for International Trust Business.

The conference opened with two lively Breakfast Briefings , [1] “UK and International Information Flows: the Floods Gates Open” by Andrew Park, Tax Dispute Partner at BDO. and [2] ‘Coming to and Leaving Bermuda’ by Sen. the Hon. Michael Fahy. Mr. Parked dealt with global tax transparency and in particular the potential effects of the Common Reporting Standard [CRS] which goes live in January 2016. Sen. Fahy briefed on Bermuda Immigration Issues such as the departments updated regulations to simplify the work permit process.

Most of the conference sessions were presented by way of round table or panel discussions, debates and role playing which added variety and made them not only informative, but very interesting as well. Moreover, all panels were composed of high calibre, accomplished and witty speakers, many of whom, such as Mary Duke, Family Wealth Advisor and Jon Condor, Partner with Macfarlanes, who moderated the entire forum, are professionals who had previously worked on permit in Bermuda in the Financial Services Industry.

The sessions commenced with an International Judicial Round Table consisting of the Honourable Chief Justice Ian Kawaley of Bermuda, the Honourable Mr. Justice David Hayton of the Caribbean Court of justice [CCJ] which was set up ten years ago to replace the Privy Council and the Honourable Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of the Cayman Islands.

This round table dealt at length with the latest legislation and cases which address the issue of setting aside or rectifying a Trust where there has been an error, the new Reserve Powers in Bermudian Trust and the need for balancing privacy and the need for the public to know. It was pointed out that the modern shift towards transparency can create a threat to offshore jurisdiction and these offshore jurisdiction or Financial Service Centres [FSC] may need to push back towards privacy particularly so if there is no real public interest need.

Another panel, consisting of three Queen’s Council Barristers [QCs] and moderated by Narinda Hargun of Conyers Dill and Pearman, discussed the question of a beneficiary’s right to trust information from the trustees and the use of the Purpose Trust in Bermuda.

With the advent of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act [FATCA] the Common Reporting Standards [CRS] and other such onshore legislation, the question of Information Exchange and Privacy was the topic of yet another panel discussion moderated by Richard Hay of Stikeman Elliott. He concluded that these legislation and tax agreements gave onshore jurisdictions more information on their offshore citizens than they can ever ask of their onshore citizens.

Attendees were also treated to a lively debate on the International Enforcement of Taxes which addressed the question, should the trustee pay taxes when the beneficiary is opposed lead by Anthony Poulton of Baker Mckenzie. Panel discussions on the personal liabilities for trustees and directors and Trust Structuring Options in the 21st Century, moderated by Keith Robinson and Vanessa Schrum of Appleby respectively.

Breakfast Briefings on day two covered subjects such as Cross Border Planning for Divorce by Dawn Goodman of Withers, Jurisdiction Hopping: Planning and Litigation by Richard Wilson of 3 Stone Building and Moving to US, Expatriating, the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programme [OVDP] etc. by Warren Whitaker of Day Pitney.

There were several very lively panel discussions, one which addressed the issue of Stress Testing of Trust Structures, which raised the question of whether one should bend before one breaks, was moderated by Alec Anderson , Global Head of Private Clients and Trust at Conyers Dill and Pearman.

How to Change One’s Trust Structure was addressed by another panel of international lawyers moderated by Fozeia Rana-Fahy, Director at MJM Limited. It highlighted the advantages of Section 47 of the Bermuda Trustee Act 1925 over the UK legislation in dealing with the variation of trust. In dealing with the subject of the many rapid changed coming to offshore jurisdictions from the U.S, Andrew De La Rosa of ITC Chambers recommended adopting the 1939 British wartime slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Topics such as Israeli Challenge for Foreign Trustees, doing trust business with Middle Eastern clients, Latin American Trust and Estate Planning and the issues faced with working with European clients were treated in late afternoon break out streams. The European stream stole the moment with some very accomplished and spirited role playing by Beatrice Puoti, Partner with Burges Salmon. This session demonstrated how complex it can become doing Trust Business in Europe.

Generally, the IBC Transcontinental Forum: Bermuda 2015 was an overwhelming success. Paul Barford, Conference Director at IBC Global Conference, was excited about the attendance, the conference generally and the Bermuda hospitality. He expressed the hope that it will become an Annual Bermuda event. A similar sentiment was expressed by Sean Moran, Business Development Manager of the BDA and he looks forward to working with the Conference organizers and the Bermuda business community to ensure that it becomes a reality. The tentative date of May 6th to 8th 2016 has been set.

- Kensley McDowall is a Bermudian Attorney and Compliance Specialist, MD and Consultant of Caribbean Compliance Consultants [Bermuda]. For more information, email kamcdowall@gmail.com or visit online.

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Comments (3)

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  1. What higher praises could have been extended: ” Generally, the I.B.C. Transcontinental Forum: Bermuda 2015 was an overwhelming success. Paul Barford, Conference Director at IBC Global Conference, was excited about the attendance, the conference generally and the Bermuda hospitality.” He expressed the hope that it will become an Annual Bermuda event. A similar sentiment was expressed by Sean Moran, Business Development Manager of the BDA and he looks forward to working with the Conference organizers and the Bermuda business community to ensure that it becomes a reality. The tentative date of May 6th to 8th 2016 has been set.

  2. Contraction? or Growth? says:

    Phenomenal work for Bermuda’s STEP Committee to bring this prestigious event to our shores.

    Since all the established client markets that we used to service are contracting, who will take the initiative to take us into growing new markets where we aren’t tied down by US FATCA, UK Exchange of Info etc etc etc ?

    Will growth come from the Service Providers, Banks? Bermuda Government? or the Bermuda Business Development Agency?

    I studied 4 years to pass the STEP course and all I see is trusts being terminated or transferred elsewhere and I am real real nervous.

  3. Jonathan Dunlop says:

    This conference was brought to Bermuda by the hard work of the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and their Trust and Private Client Strategy team, not the STEP Bermuda Committee. While their are a few members that serve on both committees, as their are with the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees (BALT) and BDA; this was a 100% BDA effort.

    It was a world class conference, with outstanding speakers, and the BDA and Transcontinental deserve the credit accordingly.

    Jonathan Dunlop
    Chair STEP Bermuda

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