Our Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Walkers continues to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its people, its clients and its business.

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Walkers is a leading international law firm. We advise on the laws of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Ireland and Jersey.
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Walkers is pleased to announce that its 2020 Students, Graduates and Training Programmes are open.

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Update on Court Availability in the BVI, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands

In these unprecedented times, governments globally are reacting to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, including the availability of public services such as access to the courts for hearings and other judicial services such as filings and searches. The situation is changing all the time, but as of 2 April 2020, we confirm that the current status of the relevant courts in BVI, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands is as below.

Generally, the Courts in each jurisdiction are continuing to operate, albeit on a more limited basis in Bermuda restricted to urgent matters only, with precautionary steps being taken including utilising technology where possible to limit the potential spread of the virus. Filings and Court searches are available in the ordinary course in BVI and the Cayman Islands, and in Bermuda for urgent matters only.

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Bermuda Legislates to Attract Submarine Cable Industry

As part of the Bermuda Government’s FinTech strategy to develop a FinTech ecosystem and for Bermuda to become a technology hub of the future, the Bermuda Government introduced a new legislative framework for submarine cables titled the Submarine Communications Act 2020 (the “Act”), which was passed in the House of Assembly on 14 February 2020 and is expected become operative in the near future. The primary purpose of the Act is to meet the growing demand for increased capacity in underwater cables that carry the internet and telecommunications by providing a regulatory framework for both the establishment of a submarine communications cables industry in Bermuda and provide for the protection of the submarine communications cables.

There is currently no Atlantic interconnection hub and therefore the Bermuda Government alongside the Bermuda Business Development Agency are working to promote Bermuda as an ‘Atlantic Digital Hub’ due to its prime geographic location. There are currently three hubs in the Pacific Ocean, in Hawaii, Guam and Fiji.


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Update on Extensions to Cayman Islands Filing Deadlines and Other Measures

The Government of the Cayman Islands continues to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to support business continuity of the financial services industry in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has taken further measures in relation to certain deadlines. Further detail is set out in the Government Release.

Annual returns and economic substance notifications
The Registrar of Companies ("ROC") and the Department for International Tax Cooperation ("DITC") have extended the deadlines for entities to complete their annual returns and economic substance notification filings.

The annual return filing deadline has been extended until 30 June 2020. The extension will apply to all companies, including limited liability companies and foundation companies. Penalties for failure to file will come into force on 1 July 2020.

As a result of the annual return extension for companies, the deadline for economic substance notification filings is now 30 June 2020. Note, that the economic substance notification will remain a prerequisite for companies successfully filing an annual return.

In addition to the filing extension, ROC will accept affidavits or other documents that have been notarised or certified online or utilising audio-video technology during this time.

The General Registry, which incorporates the ROC, previously gave a one-month extension for beneficial ownership submissions. The extension went into effect on 23 March and will cease on 20 April 2020. The reprieve allows corporate service providers ("CSPs") to retrieve information from their overseas clients, while giving the Government’s Beneficial Ownership digital platform time to come online and for CSPs to transition to making electronic filings.

CIMA regulatory filings
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority ("CIMA") is allowing an extension for regulatory filings as shown in the list within CIMA’s Notice. Also, notably:

>> CIMA’s inspection programme has become primarily desk-based with the scope of some inspections being narrowed. All meetings will take place by teleconference. In exceptional circumstances, CIMA will postpone planned reviews. However, doing this will require special dispensation.

>> CIMA will accept affidavits or other documents that have been notarised or certified via the DocuSign process or utilising audio-video technology during this time. As part of its business continuity plan, CIMA is committed to delivering full operations and services to the financial services industry. However, licensees and registrants are reminded to utilise email as the primary contact method.

These are the latest Cayman Islands measures to help the financial services industry in the face of COVID-19. We will advise further in the event of any updates.


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Ireland Update - Covid-19: Commercial Leases

The Covid-19 crisis is upon us but what does this mean in terms of legal responsibilities relating to a business property? When considering the implications of the current Covid-19 public health crisis from a property perspective as either a landlord or a tenant, the lease should always be the starting point. It governs the contractual relationship between the parties and, pending the enactment of specific legislation altering the contractual obligations of the parties, the contractual provisions of the lease shall prevail.

Some of the key lease provisions likely to come into sharp focus resulting from the forced closure of non-essential businesses are the rent and keep open clauses.


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Covid-19 Ireland Update - Latest Measures and Options for Irish Employers

As cases of Covid-19 continue to spread the Irish Government has ordered all non-essential businesses to close.

In this advisory we explain the new measures which are designed to support workers and ease the burden on businesses if employees cannot attend work due to the impact of Covid-19. 

Updated 27 March


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