The Offshore Angle: An Expert's Perspective

In this edition of Vannin Capital’s In Conversation Series, London Managing Director, Rosemary Ioannou discusses the development of third party funding in offshore financial centres with John O’Driscoll, partner at Walkers in London.

Rosemary Ioannou (RI): Walkers London office performs a unique function as a firm in the UK. What is the focus of your practice in the UK?

John O’Driscoll (JO): A little bit about Walkers, we are a leading offshore firm with offices in ten jurisdictions including London. We practice the laws of BVI, Cayman, Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland and Bermuda (where we operate as Taylors in association with Walkers).

The London market is a very important market for the firm. Our office in London was established in 2001 to provide time zone sensitive advice to our European based clients requiring BVI and Cayman law advice. Since 2001 we have had corporate, finance and funds capability in London. About six years ago, we saw an opportunity to set up an insolvency and dispute resolution (“IDR”) team in London when I came on board. The team now stands at five and works closely with our home offices, particularly in BVI and Cayman, on litigation and insolvency-based matters. As you know, litigation matters can be long running and our clients welcome having their lawyers present in London. Being in London also makes it easy to work alongside leading counsel from chambers in the City and City law firms. When proceedings take place in BVI and Cayman we work with our teams there to ensure a seamless service for our clients. Our other European offices in Dublin, Jersey and Guernsey provide advices to our clients requiring local law expertise involving those jurisdictions.

RI: What types of cases are most frequently crossing your desk at the moment and from which jurisdictions?

JO: We are seeing enforcement actions and shareholder disputes in the oil & gas, mining and shipping space. For example, right now we are working on the insolvency of a global shipping group which has become contentious in Africa and many other jurisdictions where assets are being recovered. We are working with liquidators who have been appointed over mines in South America and Africa. Very often you will find that BVI or Cayman companies sit as holding companies in large international group structures. Appointing a liquidator at the top of the structure can become important to a stakeholder’s enforcement strategy. We often work with clients who require funding to help recover assets or to pursue misfeasance actions against directors or managers.


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