BDB Pitmans acts as agents in a successful appeal to the JCPC by Walkers (Bermuda) Limited against the Bermuda Bar Council
As the highest court of appeal for the UK’s crown dependencies, overseas territories and many Commonwealth countries, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) plays a global role in resolving the most significant of legal issues.
BDB Pitmans have recently acted as agents in a successful appeal to the JCPC by Walkers (Bermuda) Limited (WBL) against the Bermuda Bar Council. The appeal centred on a point of Bermudan company law regarding what exactly is meant by the requirement for a Bermudan company to be ‘controlled’ by Bermudans under the Companies Act 1981. The judgment can be found here.
WBL was incorporated as a local company in Bermuda in 2015. Its sole director and 99% shareholder had Bermudan status. WBL intended to enter into a commercial relationship with Walkers Global, which had no Bermudan ownership, and applied to the Bermuda Bar Council for a Certificate of Recognition. The Bar Council refused to grant this on the grounds that it would cause WBL no longer to be controlled by Bermudans, in contravention of Bermudan legislation which seeks to preserve local control of many aspects of the island’s economy and way of life. WBL appealed this refusal and the Chief Justice of Bermuda ordered the Bar Council to provide the certificate to WBL. The Bar Council appealed to the Court of Appeal of Bermuda, instructing Lord Pannick QC and granting him a license to appear before the local courts for the purpose. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, hence WBL appealed to the JCPC, which set aside the Court of Appeal’s decision and allowed WBL’s appeal.
The JCPC’s decision is important not only in the legal interpretation it resolves but also more widely in that it demonstrates that the JCPC can be relied upon to correct errors of law that have been made in domestic courts. This successful appeal means that WBL is now able to develop in the way intended, which is a significant step for Bermudan firms, and offshore firms more generally.
Richard Langley and Judith Swinhoe-Standen dealt with this particular appeal. BDB Pitmans has a designated team acting as agents for Privy Council appeals. We have worked with clients and counsel in various jurisdictions, including Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, the BVI, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands, enabling us to build and develop connections with firms and chambers around the world.