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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RacialEquality

Statement on Racial Equality

We at Walkers strongly condemn racism, systemic bias and discrimination. We are horrified by the tragic killings of black men and women, and acknowledge that these events are painful for many. We stand with the black community and all others who are victims of racial injustice.

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Future Plans for Bermuda Public Beneficial Ownership Register

Bermuda has collected and maintained information concerning beneficial owners of Bermuda registered entities for over 70 years and the Bermuda Government committed to making beneficial ownership information public, when public beneficial ownership registers became a global, international standard. Further to a press statement on 12 July 2020, the Minister of Finance stated that the Bermuda Government plans to table legislation by January 2023, twelve months from the publication of the European Union fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive anticipated on 5 January 2022, to make the beneficial ownership register currently maintained by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, accessible to the public.

 

Click to view advisory

Adjourning a Winding up Petition: The Standing of a Secured Creditor in the Cayman Islands

In the recent judgment of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands (the "Grand Court") in the matter of G3 Exploration Limited (Formerly Green Dragon Gas Ltd.) (the "Company"), Justice McMillan provided helpful guidance on the application of principles governing two pertinent areas of insolvency law in the Cayman Islands: (1) the standing of a secured creditor to petition; and (2) the circumstances in which the Court may direct the adjournment of a winding up petition.

The Court had previously ordered that the Company be placed into provisional liquidation to allow the joint provisional liquidators, Mr. Alexander Lawson and Mr. Christopher Kennedy of Alvarez & Marsal Cayman Islands Limited, and Ms. Tiffany Wong of Alvarez & Marsal Asia Limited (the "JPLs") to determine whether or not a restructuring of the Company deserved further consideration, or whether a winding up order should be made. The Company argued that there were sufficient grounds to provide for a further adjournment of the petition, relying upon the JPLs' findings that a restructuring remained viable. This position was also supported by another creditor of the Company.

The Court concluded that a further adjournment of the petition for a period of four months was in the ultimate interests of the Company's stakeholders, noting that "there was no immediate tangible benefit in granting a Winding Up Order and that there was credible evidence before the Court that there is a reasonable prospect that the Petitioner's debt would be paid within a reasonable time." In delivering the Reasons for Judgment, Justice McMillan focussed on the two particular issues of law identified above.

1. The Standing of a Secured Creditor to Petition

Justice McMillan noted that the question of a secured creditor's standing to present a winding up petition had not previously been dealt with by the Grand Court. In making his finding on this issue, Justice McMillan accepted that a secured creditor has standing to petition for the winding up a company in the Cayman Islands, and to the extent that the secured creditor's security is relevant, its relevance would be as to weight rather than to standing.

2. The Principles Governing the Adjournment of a Winding Up Petition

The four month adjournment was granted on the basis that the Court found there was a reasonable prospect that the petitioner's debt would be paid within a reasonable period of time, and conversely, there was no immediate tangible benefit to winding up the Company. In coming to this conclusion, Justice McMillan observed that the views of the secured petitioner were counterbalanced by the views of the other creditor and those of the JPLs, who both saw merits in an adjournment being granted. The Company itself was also seeking an adjournment. Whilst the ultimate success of the petitioner's debt being repaid pursuant to the proposed refinancing could not be guaranteed, the situation was deemed to be sufficiently promising for it to be examined further.

Walkers' Global Asset Finance Practice Shines on World Stage in 2020

Walkers is pleased to announce that its global asset finance practice has been recognised for its role in seven award winning transactions identified by the leading industry publications throughout 2020.

In the recent Airfinance Journal Awards 2020, Walkers' offices were involved in three award winning transactions with significant roles on the ABS Deal of the Year (JOL Air $554m ABS), SLB Deal of the Year (Air Europa US$215m Sale Leaseback and PDP financing) and Equity Deal of the Year (Titan Aviation's $400m Aviation Fund). The JOL Air transaction was also lauded in the Asia-Pacific market where it won the Asia Pacific Overall Deal of the Year Award at the Airline Economics Aviation 100 Asia Pacific Awards and the In-House Community Asian-Mena Counsel Deal of the Year 2019.

Prior to these awards, Walkers' Irish office celebrated winning two aviation-related Dublin Finance awards in the Financing category (SMBC Aviation Capital’s GAEL aviation equity fund) and in the M&A category (InterGlobe’s acquisition of Airborne Capital).

The SMBC transaction was noteworthy for its involvement of Walkers' lender client with SMBC Aviation Capital's inaugural aviation equity fund, providing an entry point into the aircraft leasing market for Japanese institutional investors that had not previously invested in aviation. Walkers was delighted to advise the client on the Irish and Cayman aspects of this innovative eight aircraft transaction, which demonstrated the ability of the team to work closely with onshore counsel to bring transactions of this complexity to financial close.

The InterGlobe transaction demonstrated both the expertise of Walkers' corporate team in financial services and aviation, M&A and corporate restructurings and their growing presence on such deals within the market. The deal has facilitated Airborne with its plans to expand its aircraft operations and its transformative effect was seen late last year when Airborne completed a US$637 million asset back securitisation in respect of 17 aircraft.

Commenting on these recent awards wins, Partner and Head of the Ireland Asset Finance practice, David McGovern said, "The awards show a market recognition and endorsement in respect of our team of internationally trained lawyers. The experience of Walkers' Asset Finance practice and detailed knowledge of the aircraft finance and leasing sector from a legal and commercial perspective results in our ability to document transactions in a practical and commercial manner. We are grateful to have been recognised by the Airfinance Journal and by Finance Dublin as a leading asset finance service provider."

Earlier in the year, Walkers was also delighted to have been involved in three award winning transactions at the Airline Economics Awards in January 2020 including acting as Cayman counsel on the Aviation 100 Asia-Pacific Editor’s Deal of the Year (MACH 2019-1 ABS) and Cayman and Irish counsel on the Aviation 100 Fund of the Year (New Fund) (Global Aviation Equipment Leasing fund). These successes highlight the strength, breadth and technical ability of the global asset finance team.

James Burch, partner in Walkers' Cayman Islands office, notes that these awards "are testament to the expertise and connectivity of our global asset finance teams and we are proud to support our clients in the industry on these innovative and market leading transactions."

In the first new aircraft type delivered by a commercial aircraft manufacturer to a new customer during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walkers acted as Cayman Islands counsel in connection with the financing by ABSA Bank Limited and African Export – Import Bank of six De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft to TAAG Angola Airlines.

The Bermuda office also led a multi-disciplinary cross office team acting as Bermuda, Cayman and BVI offshore counsel to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. on three separate significant financing transactions, equating to $2bn which were completed during May as well as acting as Bermuda counsel in connection with Carnival's US$6.6bn debt and equity offerings.

Walkers' market leading asset finance team comprises 53 lawyers, in ten offices practicing the laws of six jurisdictions. Together with our experienced fiduciary colleagues in Walkers Professional Services, Walkers can provide a comprehensive solution across all major aviation jurisdictions for the establishment and ongoing operation of asset finance SPVs.

Walkers & CAACI: FAQ on Transitional Registration of Aircraft

Walkers and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands ("CAACI") recently discussed the frequently asked questions in connection with the CAACI's new expanded transitional aircraft registration offering.

 

Here are our top 5 FAQs from the recording:

  1. Who can register transitional aircraft with the CAACI?
    The registered owner of an aircraft must be a “Qualified Person” which includes (i) a Cayman incorporated entity, (ii) an entity incorporated in any part of the Commonwealth and which has its registered office or principal place of business in any part of the Commonwealth or (iii) an entity formed in accordance with the law of an European Economic Area ("EEA") state and which has its registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EEA.
  2. How are costs determined for transitional registration of aircraft with the CAACI?
    A Service Level Agreement ('SLA") between the applicant and the CAACI outlines the fee structure. The associated services offered in this SLA will cater for vast majority of transition projects. Fees are determined on a case by case basis where a SLA is developed between the CAACI (in collaboration with an agreed Continued Airworthiness Management Organisation ("CAMO") with whom the CAACI work closely) and the applicant based on the specific requirements of the applicant. Some of the relevant factors in determining cost include the aircraft type, how many aircraft are involved in the project, the length of the project and the certifications required while the aircraft is on the Cayman register.
  3. Can the registration process be completed online?
    Yes, using the CAACI VP-C Online portal which can be accessed at https://www.vp-conline.com. Provision of all required 'Know Your Customer' information in respect of the applicant as well as payment of registration costs can be completed online. The CAMO assigned for the aircraft and the applicant will be granted login access.
  4. How long will review of a registration application typically take?
    If the applicant has indicated that the required registration of the aircraft is imminent, the CAACI team will give the registration application priority but generally the application can be handled within 2-3 days.
  5. What arrangements are required for the storage of aircraft and how long could an aircraft remain in storage?
    The aircraft will be technically managed by the assigned CAMO and the CAACI will have active oversight during the storage period working with the CAMO in preparation for the issuance of an Export Certificate of Airworthiness.

    The SLA has been adapted to cater for a 12 month period without any additional fees in light of the current market conditions. All projects are intended to be actively managed for transition and such time periods remain under review.

For more information, you can visit the CACCI's website at https://www.caacayman.com. Alternatively, please feel free to reach out to Sarah Humpleby or any other member of the Walkers global aviation team with any further questions.

Walkers Ranked as Leading Firm in Chambers High Net Worth Guide

Walkers' Global Private Capital & Trusts ("PC&T") practice has been highlighted in the independent Chambers & Partners High Net Worth Guide for 2020 for its Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey practices. Walkers' Cayman office was ranked as a jurisdiction-leading practice having received an overall Band 1 rating, with clients commenting:

"[Walkers] is a big-name brand and has a loyal client following, they have the strength and resources to do this work on a global scale;" and "If I could pick any team in Cayman I'd go to them."

Walkers' Jersey and Guernsey teams also ranked and, in total, seven of Walkers' PC&T lawyers have been ranked in the directory.

The ranking comes just six months after Walkers was named Law Firm of the Year for the Caribbean at the prestigious 2020 Citywealth International Financial Centre Awards ceremony, a designation that highlights excellence in private wealth advisors and managers in major international financial centres.

The following members of the PC&T practice were highlighted by Chambers & Partners:

Monique Bhullar, Cayman Islands: "is "a very good lawyer" who advises on complex trust matters. One industry source says: "She is extremely bright, practical and has good business sense with regard to wealth structuring and high-value trust matters." Another peer remarks: "She has a very good attitude, is driven and pleasant to deal with," adding that "she is a real expert in unit trusts."

David Pytches, Cayman Islands and BVI "expert based abroad": "is well regarded for his broad range of expertise in offshore trust matters. He is highly responsive and gives excellent legal advice, but he also has good commercial nous," observers a trusts expert, who continues: "What distinguishes him from other lawyers is that he is someone who can advise us beyond just the legal issues." A US attorney notes that "he has a brilliant legal mind and is a very cerebral lawyer."

Shelley White, Cayman Islands: "is "a brilliant lawyer" who is "an excellent litigator" according to sources. One market insider notes: "She is incredibly bright and has real intellectual rigour. She can cut through legal issues very incisively and she also brings good commercial acumen," adding that "she brings both sides of the coin to the table." Another source remarks that "she fights your corner until the bitter end."

Lucy Diggle, Cayman Islands: "is "a standout attorney worthy of recognition," says a source, and another interviewee notes: "She has intellectual rigour and real common sense." An industry expert says: "She is very personable and very intelligent," adding that "she is easy to work with and friendly." "She can always see the broader picture to give you the right overview and put complex pieces together," comments a London adviser."

Rajah Abusrewil, Guernsey: "is described as a well-regarded trusts attorney with a "very good reputation". A private client adviser reported that "Technically, she is very personable, and good with clients."

Rupert Morris, Guernsey: "is head of the private capital and trusts team in Guernsey. A source says he is "a very good contentious lawyer who can also handle trust planning work," and another reports that "he has a strong reputation here and people know he is good."

Robert Dobbyn, Jersey: "is "very knowledgeable, very commercial and has a very broad range of experience", says an offshore expert, who also remarked that "he is good in understanding the intricacies of structuring laws and rules in Jersey, as well as other markets."

Over the last year, Walkers has steadily grown its global PC&T practice. The Cayman team saw the promotions of Monique Bhullar and Clive Thomas to the partnership, and Jo-Anne Stephens to senior counsel. Meanwhile, in Guernsey, trust and fiduciary expert Rajah Abusrewil joined the firm as a Group Partner. All 10 of Walkers' offices are accredited as a STEP Employer Partner, a partnership that supports the professional development of its team members in the trusts and estates industry.

The PC&T team at Walkers spans the globe with lawyers on the ground in the Cayman Islands, BVI, Guernsey and Jersey, who collaborate closely with colleagues in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Because of its strategic locations, Walkers is able to consider factors such as language barriers and time zones, and address them by choosing what's most appropriate and convenient for the client.

"We are often instructed on matters involving multiple jurisdictions providing a single point of contact for the client," commented Philip Paschalides, lead partner of the PC&T group. "But, our group structure also allows us to remain agile and recommend the jurisdiction which best suits the client's needs."

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