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Introduction: What Future For The Trust?

Even the most devoted believer in the rights of humans to dispose of their own assets and to arrange their affairs to their own benefit would have to agree that the trust is an anachronism. But then so is offshore itself. The harmonisers would say that it is irrational and unacceptable to allow a person to separate himself artificially from his property for his personal gain. The tax authorities have dealt with the trust by ignoring it and bypassing it - the few that haven't yet done so will surely fall into line quite soon. So if the trust is not a barrier to a tax collector, why, logically, should it be a barrier to a creditor?

As much as the trust seems to be somehow unethical when used for personal enrichment or protection in defiance of the public interest, it is obviously the right instrument when used to hold assets on behalf of others. The 'Unit Trust', the pensions trustee and other quasi-public guardians of private interests are eminently acceptable, superior to the 'Code' equivalents, and would have had to be invented if they didn't already exist, as is amply proven by their wholesale adoption in 'Code' countries. A genuine generation-hopping anti-inheritance tax trust also seems OK, because this is a morally repugnant tax to many people.

So it's odd, isn't it, that the laws under which individuals gain protection against 'genuine' creditors through a 'fake' disposal of assets should if anything have become stronger, not weaker. This is an area in which the balkanised condition of international law (non-international law, in other words) shows no signs of the creeping globalisation affecting other walks of life. Banking, insurance, pensions, shipping, environment, accounting and a host of other bodies of law are converging. But not trust law, or the national court systems which cradle it. Why is this? Is it because lawyers are rich, too?

Logical or illogical, there is no sign that the trust has run its course, as our review of the main trust-friendly jurisdictions will show. Indeed, in 2006 the Swiss parliament approved the ratification of the Hague Convention on the Law applicable to Trusts and their Recognition.

Modifications to Swiss law to give effect to the Hague Convention concerned the Swiss International Private Law rules dealing with the recognition of foreign decisions and the jurisdiction of Swiss Courts in trust related matters, as well as the introduction into the solvency and bankruptcy law of the principle of segregation of trust assets.

Investec Trust Switzerland Managing Director Xavier Isaac stated at the time that the ratification had sent a clear signal to the international finance community that Switzerland recognised the importance of the Anglo-Saxon trust concept as an essential component of the wider wealth management proposition and of the need for an adequate legal framework when dealing with trust structures.

“It is a major development in the trust landscape internationally and for Switzerland,” he announced, continuing: “Ratification is great as it dissipates much of the uncertainty for trusts in the Swiss legal system.”

Mr Isaac added that high net worth individuals (HNWI) coming to Switzerland expect a secure environment for the structuring and management of their wealth.

“It is therefore the clients who will benefit most from ratification as more and more HNWI will continue to place their confidence in the Swiss financial sector, opening bank accounts and viewing trusts as sound vehicles for wealth management,” he observed.

“It will also give additional international credibility and standing to Switzerland as a proper jurisdiction for wealth management activities in a context where Switzerland is too often the target of some EU and other countries."

“Switzerland is adjusting its existing rules so that Swiss law can now interact with trusts from a legal perspective."

“The Swiss Tax Conference is reviewing the tax treatment on trusts. While the taxation of settlors and beneficiaries in Switzerland is the most complex and sensitive part of the discussion I hope that trusts, which have non-resident settlors and beneficiaries but have Swiss trustees and/or are being administrated in Switzerland, will be treated on tax neutral basis."

The Report

Offshore Trusts Guide: Introduction

Offshore Trusts Guide: Jurisdictions

Bahamas Barbados Bermuda British Virgin Islands Cayman Islands Cook Islands Cyprus Gibraltar Guernsey Isle of Man Jersey Liechtenstein Madeira Malta Mauritius Monaco Nevis New Zealand Panama Seychelles Turks & Caicos Vanuatu


Offshore Trusts News

Gibraltar Marks 25th Year of HNWI Residency Scheme
Saturday 17/2/2018
Gibraltar is marking the 25th year of its special tax residency program for high-net-worth individuals, known officially as Category 2 status, which limits taxation on worldwide income to a maximum of GBP30,000 (USD41,958) per year.

Cayman Eases Deadline For CbC Reporting
Wednesday 14/2/2018
Authorities in the Cayman Islands have pushed back the deadline for notifying local authorities of which entity will file a country-by-country report, and for filing the first reports.

Morrison Continues Australian Corporate Tax Cut Push
Tuesday 13/2/2018
It does not "make any sense" to keep Australia's business taxes high, Treasurer Scott Morrison has said.

IoM Guides On Vetting Key Persons
Tuesday 6/2/2018
The Isle of Man's Financial Services Authority has updated its guidance on the criminal records checks regulated entities are required to undertake.

Bermuda Launches Anti-Money Laundering Campaign
Friday 2/2/2018
Bermuda's Prime Minister, David Burt, has launched a public awareness campaign calling on all islanders and businesses to support the Government's efforts to combat global financial crime.

EU Issues GDPR Tool For SMEs, Guidance For States
Wednesday 31/1/2018
The European Commission has newly launched an online tool to support citizens, businesses – and in particular small- and medium-sized firms – and other organizations to come to terms and comply with new data protection rules being introduced from May 25: the General Data Protection Regulation.

EU Asks For Small Firms' Input On VAT Reform Plans
Wednesday 31/1/2018
The European Commission has asked for taxpayers' feedback in respect of its proposals to simplify value-added tax compliance for small enterprises, alongside the publication of its proposal for a Council Directive to amend the EU VAT Directive as regards the special scheme for small businesses.

Barbados Looks To Bolster Intellectual Property Regime
Monday 29/1/2018
Barbados's Government has laid out plans to better safeguard the intellectual property rights of the island's micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

IoM Consults On EU Data Protection Law Changes
Wednesday 24/1/2018
The Isle of Man Government has issued a consultation document providing further detail on the alignment of the island's data protection law with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force on May 25, 2018.

Hong Kong Eases Stamp Duty Rules For Residents
Monday 22/1/2018
Hong Kong has relaxed the rules for those buying residential property, with the publication in the Official Gazette of The Stamp Duty (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 on January 19, 2018.