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Recovering legal hotspot: Bermuda

Posted by: Laurence Simons 01/02/16

As a major offshore centre, Bermuda was hit especially hard by the global financial crisis in 2008. Yet although recovery has been slow, it has also been dramatic. Historically, Bermuda has been home to the headquarters of two of the largest offshore firms in the world, namely Appleby and Conyers Dill & Pearman, yet both were founded on the island. However, international legal outfits are now taking an interest, with Walkers even announcing this year that it would be the first “multi-jurisdictional” firm to launch there.

With a strong reputation for insurance – including the concept of captive insurance being created on the island – Bermuda already had a presence on the radar of many legal entities. Yet now it has been working relentlessly on new offerings and products which have contributed to its emergence from financial crisis – although admittedly slower than some of its neighbours. As Tim Faries, Appleby’s insurance sector leader, comments: “Our economic cycle usually follows the US, lagging some 18 to 24 months behind.”

Yet activity is very definitely growing and, as Walkers’ global managing partner, Ingrid Pierce, said at the time the firm announced the launch, “There’s pent-up demand to satisfy Bermuda services, largely in corporate transactions which we undertake in Asia and in other deals with a multi- jurisdictional component.”

Bermuda Development Agency (BDA) chief executive, Ross Webber, comments that: “We’re working very hard and collaboratively as a country to ensure that our true value and contribution is understood. Onshore lawyers are influencers of decision making. You need the London legal community to make sure they’re continually advocating for their client by doing the analysis of what’s the best jurisdiction for them to go to.”

With much of the international legal community excited about the prospects of Bermuda’s continued growth, the future is looking very bright for the island.