Transcontinental Trusts International Forum 2016

May 12, 2016

[Written by Kensley McDowall]

The Transcontinental Trust: International Forum 2016, “Private Client TransTrust”, just concluded on Tuesday 10th May at the Fairmont Southampton Princess. This conference was mounted by the IBC Global Conferences, an informa business based in the United Kingdom in conjunction with leading partner, the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA].

With close to three hundred attendees, IBC Conference Producer, Paul Barford, reckons that it is IBC’s biggest Private Client Conference in one year. The conference has brought together a very high level of trust professionals from the UK, Europe, the USA and the Caribbean.

In his opening address, Mr. Ross Webber, CEO of BDA welcomed organizers, speakers, sponsors and attendees. He said, “It’s truly gratifying to see such a high-calibre conference become a fixture on the industry’s annual calendar. And it’s a privilege to welcome to our island so many elite professionals in this field.”

He noted that, “Bermuda is a perfect fit to be host venue, given our heritage as one of the world’s leading and oldest international wealth-planning jurisdictions—a place for quality. The BDA is proud to be lead sponsor of this conference for that same reason.

“We’re committed to ensuring Bermuda remains at the forefront of international trust law and making certain our domicile provides an innovative, competitive, fit-for-purpose product. Our environment suits your business—from our world-class pool of talented practitioners and globally-respected regulation, to our superior judicial system… which, by the way, turns 400 years old this summer.”

He commented on the ways in which Bermuda as an offshore jurisdiction helps the onshore jurisdiction. He said, “We [Bermuda] are proving that we are more than just a low-tax jurisdiction. We are demonstrating the value we return to global economies. Bermuda has spoken out strongly on this point, because we’re proud of what we give, versus what others think we take.”

He stated that “our domicile’s agile structures, cost-effectiveness and expertise fuel global trade, investment and wealth-management that keeps worldwide economies afloat.”

In this current [economic] climate, he said that Bermuda is feeling bullish because it is an opportunity to differentiate it’s self from jurisdictions that can’t claim Bermuda’s longstanding, blue-chip record of transparency, compliance and cooperation; an opportunity to explain the basic economics of globalisation and an opportunity to clarify that our regulatory and business ecosystem is pragmatic and appropriate. He noted that clients take comfort in the knowledge that there is recourse to appeal and that the jurisdiction is not corrupt. He called on the private sector to help spread the word.

With the assistance of some of the Trust Industry’s most highly trained and internationally recognised professionals, the conference covered a wide range of Trust and Private Client related topics delivered through presentations, panel discussions, role playing and mooting over a two day period.

A few highlights of the conference includes, an International Trust Litigation Update. This was led by Bermuda’s Chief justice Dr. Ian Kawaley and ably supported by the Honourable Justice David Hayton of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Hazel Marshall QC, Lieutenant Bailiff of the State of Guernsey, Honourable Justice Stephen Hellman of Bermuda and the Honourable Justice Ingrid Mangatal of the Cayman Islands. This was most interesting as these judges were able to speak about cases, some of which they had first-hand knowledge.

A high level panel discussion on the practical implications of Information Exchange, Privacy and the CRS [Common Reporting Standards] was another well received presentation. This topic created a very lively discussion on the erosive effect that the multilateral agreements can have on privacy rights. It further led to a call from one participant to industry associations to stand up for their rights and that of their clients.

However, without a need to vote, the greatest highlight of the conference was a mock trial of a Trust Case Application, “In The Matter of the Harmonious Trust”. This was heard in the Trans Trust International Supreme Court, presided over by Bermuda’s Chief justice Dr. Ian Kawaley and a panel of the other attending Judges. The case was developed and presented by Jeffrey Elikinson of Conyers, Elsphet Talbot-Rice QC, of XXIV Old Building, Shan Wornock-Smith QC of ICT Chambers. After a short adjournment, in his usual manner, Chief Justice Kawaley delivered a sound and well-reasoned judgment.

This conference also saw the launch of the Rising Star Award where an award was presented to the winner of an essay contest. This year saw over twenty young Trust lawyers competing in the contest, the topic “What does the Future Hold for Offshore Centres, Trust Business in the year 2030”. The winner was three year practitioner, Emma Hargreaves of Serle Court, UK. She was granted the privilege of making the closing presentation at the conference and attendees are already looking forward to the presentation of next year’s winner.

From all appearances and general feed-back, the IBC Transcontinental Forum: Bermuda 2016 was an overwhelming success. It has already been referred to as the IBC’s flagship conference. Referring to the fact that the first such conference was 2015, Co-Chair of the conference, Jonathan Conder, stated that he was absolutely delighted that the conference happened again. He was delighted to see that attendance was up; there were lots of returnees and lots of new people. There were great sessions and lots of good feed-back. As a matter of fact people in the UK are already saying that it is a great conference. He believes that Bermuda has an opportunity of this conference becoming the conference to be at and looks forward to next year’s conference.

- Kensley McDowall is a Bermudian Attorney and Regulatory Compliance Specialist, MD and Consultant of Caribbean Compliance Consultants [Bermuda]. kamcdowall@gmail.com www.caribbeancompliance.com

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