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New Year, New Laws and New Judgments

April 2017

The first quarter of 2017 has been a busy one, both for the Cayman Islands Government and for the local judiciary. With the commencement of election year, the Legislative Assembly has a number of bills before it, which, given their importance to the financial services industry, will likely be the subject of lengthy debate in the lead-up to the dissolution of parliament. As the general election is scheduled for May 24, 2017, and the final sitting of the Legislative Assembly was under way at the time of writing, there is limited time to implement change and much progress is expected to be made. Meanwhile, the Grand Court has already released a number of interesting judgments that will provide helpful guidance to the finance industry in respect of disputes arising out of merger and acquisition deals, as well as concerning general matters of civil procedure across the Financial Services Division.

Legislative changes

Through late 2016 and well into the New Year, the jurisdiction has seen the introduction of a raft of new legislation designed to modernize local law and, in certain instances, to ensure consistency and compliance with global transparency efforts.

Intellectual property protection

In late December 2016, a new suite of legislation was passed into law pursuant to which the Cayman Islands seeks to modernize its intellectual property protection regime. This new suite of legislation, all of which will likely come into force in the first half of 2017, will operate as follows:

  • The Patents and Trade Marks (Amendment) Law 2016 continues to allow the extension of patents registered in the U.K. into the Cayman Islands, as has been the case under the Patents and Trade Marks Law 2011 for many years, but will have “stripped out” of it the provisions that relate to trade marks in order to pave the way for the new Trade Marks Law 2016.
  • The Trade Marks Law 2016 makes provision for the direct registration of collective marks and certification marks, and establishes a new standalone trade mark registry in the Cayman Islands. In practice, it will allow a business wishing to protect its trade mark in the Cayman Islands to avoid the expense of first obtaining a U.K. trade mark (as has been the requirement up until now) by providing for a system of local registration.
  • The Design Rights Registration Law 2016 will introduce a new law allowing owners of U.K. or EU registered designs and registered community designs the opportunity to extend their registered design rights to the Cayman Islands. Such applications will need to be made to the Registrar of Design Rights via a registered agent in the Cayman Islands and, once registered, the design right will have the same duration and attract the same rights and remedies otherwise available in respect of the design right in the U.K. or EU.

Companies and LLP legislation

Changes to the companies legislation was also pending in the Cayman Islands. As at March 2, 2017, the Legislative Assembly had passed the Companies Amendment No. 2 Bill 2016, the Companies Management Amendment No. 2 Bill 2016, and the Limited Liability Companies Amendment Bill 2016. While their commencement dates had not been announced at the time of writing, these three new pieces of law are expected to be in force by the end of the second quarter of 2017. Together, they will require Cayman Islands companies (other than certain listed or regulated companies) to establish and maintain beneficial ownership registers and for the information on those registers to be made accessible to certain enforcement and tax authorities through a centralized and electronic beneficial ownership platform.

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This article was first published in Cayman Financial Review.


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