Walkers Launches Compliance Services Offering

Walkers Compliance complements Walkers' legal, corporate and fiduciary services to deliver a one-stop-shop for clients looking to use the Cayman Islands jurisdiction for their business needs.

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Brexit

Following the result in the United Kingdom's EU referendum, Walkers has created a Brexit page dedicated to providing our clients relevant information about the jurisdictions in which we practise.

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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.
GlobalMap Oct2019
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Walkers Announces 2019 Promotions

Walkers is pleased to announce that 18 attorneys across its global offices have been invited to join the partnership. In addition, 13 associates have been promoted to senior counsel.

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Walkers Impresses in The Private Client Global Elite 2019

Six Walkers lawyers have been included in the 2019 Private Client Global Elite, up from three lawyers in 2018. For the first time Walkers has ranked lawyers in the guide who offer Private Client & Trusts services in four major private client jurisdictions: the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey & Jersey.

In the Cayman Islands, partner Shelley White (BVI & Cayman Trusts Disputes) and senior counsel Lucy Diggle (BVI & Cayman Trusts) make the guide.

In Guernsey, partners Alison Ozanne (Trusts Disputes) and Rupert Morris (Guernsey Trusts) are included.

In Jersey, partner Robert Dobbyn (Jersey Trusts) and senior counsel Sevyn Kalsi (Jersey Trusts) also make the Global Elite guide.

Launched in 2017, the Private Client Global Elite serves as a highly respected global directory of the world’s top private client and trust and estates litigation talent, as well as rising stars within the industry.

Walkers' Private Capital & Trusts partner Rupert Morris commented: "It is pleasing to see that our global growth and the value delivered by the Private Capital & Trusts team are recognised by clients and the Private Client Global Elite."

Jersey Disability Discrimination – One Year On

Disability has now been a 'protected characteristic' under Jersey law for a year, and so we thought it would be helpful to review the law and consider the claims that we are starting to see.

By way of reminder, there are three main forms of disability discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination - being less favourable treatment because of a disability. This requires a direct comparison between the employee with the disability and an employee without the disability and is notoriously difficult to prove. Direct discrimination can never be justified, although an employer may be able to rely on other defences or exceptions in the law such as an occupational requirement;

  • Discrimination arising as a consequence of disability - this applies where a person is treated unfavourably due to something which results from the disability (for example, if a disabled employee's condition results in disruptive behaviour, by imposing a sanction you may be discriminating against the employee). To be liable, an employer needs to know or ought to know that the employee has a disability. The employer will also have a defence to this type of discrimination claim if it can justify the treatment. This will require the employer to show that the measure it adopted was an appropriate way of meeting a real business need; 

  • Indirect discrimination - being the application by an employer of a policy, criteria or practice (PCP) which is intended to apply equally to all its employees, but which has the effect of substantially disadvantaging a group of people who share the employee's protected characteristic (in this case, disability). Examples of a PCP include sickness absence policies, where an employee with a disability may require more sick leave than employees who don't share that characteristic, or a redundancy selection criterion based on attendance (where disabled employees may be at a greater disadvantage for the same reason). Employers are under a duty to take reasonable steps to avoid any substantial disadvantages resulting from the application of a PCP, although, if an adjustment won't reduce a disadvantage, there is no obligation to make it.


A person will be disabled for the purposes of Jersey law if they have one or more long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which can adversely affect their ability to engage or participate in any activity in respect of which an act of discrimination is prohibited under the law (such as recruitment, selection for redundancy and dismissal). There are two points to note from this: first, the impairment must be long term, which the law defines as lasting, or expected to last, no less than six months or for the remainder of a person's life (if shorter); and second, an employee does not need to show that their disability does actually affect their day to day life (which is quite an intrusive exercise), rather that the disability may affect their employment.

There have been approximately 13 disability discrimination claims brought before the Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal since the law came into force, representing between 25% and 30% of the total number of discrimination claims brought in 2018. It was always anticipated that disability would generate more claims than the other protected characteristics and these figures appear to bear that out.

We understand that five of the disability claims that have been lodged with the Tribunal have settled or been withdrawn. There are (at the time of writing) no reported decisions in relation to the eight ongoing claims, so it is difficult to draw any conclusions on the types of complaint (direct, indirect, 'arising') that are making it to the Tribunal. More importantly, we cannot give a clear steer at this stage of how the Tribunal will be interpreting 'disabled' and how far it will expect employers to go in making reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabilities.

In our experience, the area most likely to cause problems for employers is managing sickness absence. If, as we expect, the Tribunal follows the English approach, employers will need to bear in mind the following points in relation to managing sickness related absence:

  • the duty to make reasonable adjustments goes beyond equal treatment and requires employers to take positive steps to reduce any disadvantages;

  • if your sickness absence (or attendance management) policy has certain trigger points for return to work interviews or requires a certain level of attendance in order to avoid the risk of a disciplinary sanction, this will amount to a 'PCP' and you will need to consider whether to make adjustments to mitigate the disadvantage to disabled employees. This might mean adjusting trigger points before holding interviews or increasing permitted absence levels before imposing a sanction (this is more likely to require adjustments for shorter periods of absence, but each case will need to considered on its facts);

  • consider adjustments to the process if appropriate, such as putting back by a day or two a return to work interview if this is normally scheduled for the day of return and this would cause avoidable stress.


Even though we've set out some key points to consider, disability is not a bar to running an ill-health capability process. You can continue to manage your workforce, you just need to be more careful now to avoid the risks of a disability discrimination claim.

Many businesses will already have taken steps to prepare for the law but, by way of reminder, you will be following best practice and putting yourself in a stronger position to defend a discrimination claim by:

  • reviewing and updating your employment terms, policies and procedures (including recruitment, remuneration, bonus, promotion, redundancy, sickness management and attendance) to ensure that they are flexible enough to allow reasonable adjustments to be made;

  • updating your equal opportunities policy;

  • reminding staff, particularly those in management roles, of their obligations;

  • considering legal advice if you are planning an ill-health capability or redundancy exercise; and

  • starting to plan for physical adjustments to your premises if an employee is suffering a substantial disadvantage due to a physical feature – you are now half way through the two year grace period to allow time to make these adjustments.

 

Walkers' Employment Team is always happy to help.

 

Walkers Advises £38 Million Guernsey Investment Fund on its Largest Investment Yet

Walkers' Guernsey team has advised the £38 million Guernsey Investment Fund ("GIF") on its largest investment to date.

GIF, which is majority owned by the States of Guernsey, targets opportunities for long-term capital growth through investments which have a Bailiwick of Guernsey focus or which the board and its investment manager, Ravenscroft, view as having potential benefits for the development of the Bailiwick. Its Technology & Innovation Cell invests in a diversified portfolio of technology companies and innovative companies which have the potential to create new or disrupt existing industries.

A team led by Funds partner Kate Storey has acted as lead counsel on GIF’s latest cornerstone investment, which has taken it past the point of investing more than half of its committed capital.

The fund does not publicise individual investments, but has confirmed that it has funded 11 projects since launching 18 months ago, including two large cornerstone investments, with values ranging between £100,000 and many millions of pounds.

Investments have been made by way of both equity acquisitions and structured loans. More than 100 applications for funding have been made to GIF, and the successful applicants have included both established companies and start-ups.

Kate led a Walkers team including Stephen Ozanne (Regulatory and Technology), Wandi Sishi and Mark Finlayson (Corporate), Louise Hall (Employment) and Sarah Brehaut (Litigation and Commercial Property).

Kate said: "We are pleased to have advised the Guernsey Investment Fund on its largest investment to date, which utilised Walkers’ expertise across several specialisms, including Funds and M&A, Technology and Intellectual Property.”

"Because so much of our work is international, it is interesting to be involved in an initiative which has so much potential to support and enable economic activity here in the Island, and we look forward to continuing to work with the fund."

Walkers' Singapore team advises Japan-based private equity firm Aspirant Group on launch of JPY50 billion fund

Walkers acted as Cayman Islands counsel to Japan-based private equity firm Aspirant Group, Inc. on the launch of its third fund series, the 'AG III Series Funds', with the fund closing at a hard cap of JPY50 billion (US$463 million).

Based in Tokyo, the middle-market buyout firm helps companies pursue better profitability and sustainable growth.

Limited partners who invested in the fund include both domestic and international investors, such as pension funds, financial institutions, insurance companies, funds of funds, and family offices.

The Walkers team was led by Singapore-based partners Thomas Granger and Timothy Stevens, with support from associate Michael Kenny. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett acted as lead counsel to Aspirant Group.

Walkers Acts on Magazine Luiza's $115 Million acquisition of Netshoes

Walkers is pleased to have acted as Cayman Islands legal counsel, and as co-counsel alongside Milbank LLP, for Magazine Luiza S.A. ("Magalu") in respect of the recent merger of Magazine Luiza Cayman Ltd (Magalu's wholly-owned Cayman Islands subsidiary) with New York Stock Exchange listed online sporting goods retailer Netshoes (Cayman) Limited (NYSE:NETS) ("Netshoes") for cash consideration of US$3.70 per share (the "Merger"), equivalent to a total Merger value of approximately US$115 million.

The Merger represents a strategic acquisition for Magalu, one of Brazil's largest physical and online retailers. During the course of the Merger Magalu were faced with the need to evaluate repeated competing offers from a competing bidder. The Magalu offer was strengthened by having obtained necessary anti-trust approvals in Brazil and two subsequent increases to the cash consideration offered in response to the competing bids. Magalu's offer was recommended by the Board, and ultimately accepted by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting of Netshoes held in São Paulo.

The Walkers team that advised on corporate, mergers & acquisitions, corporate governance and all general aspects of the deal was led by Caroline Williams (Partner) and Theo Lefkos (Partner) and assisted by Chris Brett Young (Associate), James Campbell (Associate), and Daniel Walford (Associate). On the dispute resolution aspects of the deal, the team comprised Rupert Bell (Partner), Nick Dunne (Partner) and Siobhan Sheridan (Associate). 

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