Solicitors governing body: Bermuda Bar Association
Financial regulator: Bermuda Monetary Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Bermuda, a British overseas territory, is free of corporate income taxes, and approximately 15,000 companies are registered there. Corporations such as Google shed billions in tax liability by exploiting structures allowing them to register in Bermuda without conducting significant (or any) business there. The island is home to a cluster of highly sophisticated law firms specialising in corporate deals, fund formation, and litigation. The corporate practices of these firms tend to focus to a great extent on the insurance and re-insurance sectors, the sources of much of Bermuda’s revenue.
While the number of law firms on the island may be small compared to some jurisdictions, that is changing as offshore law firms look beyond their base in the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands and compete for deals with a Bermudan component. Walkers and Harneys, traditionally strong in the Cayman Island and the BVI respectively, have both recently expanded into Bermuda. The new arrivals have their work cut out for them if they hope to compete with Appleby, which has been active in Bermuda since 1897, and with Conyers Dill & Pearman, a player in Bermudan transactional law since 1928. Another competitor is Cox Hallett Wilkinson, which dates back to the merger of two local firms in January 1998. Yet another player is MJM, which has strong bank lending and capital markets practices, with a concentration in shipping and aircraft finance.
On the regulatory side, Bermuda has undergone significant changes in recent months. The Investment Funds Amendment Act of 2013 liberalised the regulatory framework, giving funds formed in Bermuda the opportunity to register as Class A or Class B Exempt Funds. Funds exercising this option enjoy the status of registered qualified funds but are not subject to regulation by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Another development was the Companies Amendment Act of 2014, which loosened regulations for companies seeking to acquire land in Bermuda.
Cox Hallett Wilkinson is a top tier commercial firm headquartered in Hamilton. It has an international presence through its membership in Meritas. Ernest Morrison is managing director of the firm.
Focusses / specialisms
Financial and corporate law is where the firm excels. It is a leading firm in its market for financing, restructuring, capital markets and M&A.
Headquartered in Hamilton, Wakefield Quin is a notable Bermudan firm. Nicholas Hoskins serves as managing director.
Focusses / specialisms
The firm is proficient in financial and corporate work. It serves both local and international clients in financing, M&A and restructuring matters. It is experienced in advising investment funds.