Author: MJM Limited

Bermuda is now the epicentre of the catastrophe bond/insurance linked security world. With $7 billion of these securities now listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange, the island can claim almost half the value of the global market. Catastrophe bonds (also known as cat bonds) are risk linked securities that transfer a specified set of risks from an Insurance company which acts as a sponsor to investors through the issue of cat bonds and the trading in derivatives based on the bond. They were created and first used in the mid 1990’s in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and the Northridge earthquake and emerged from a need by insurance companies to alleviate some of the risk they would face if a major catastrophe occurred, which would incur damages that they could not cover by premiums and returns from investment using the premiums that they received. Typically an insurance company issues bonds through an investment bank which are then sold to investors. These bonds are inherently risky and are multi-year deals. If no catastrophe occurs, the insurance company pays a coupon to the investors who make a healthy return generally based on LIBOR plus between 3% and 20%. However if the catastrophe manifests itself the principal paid by the investors to purchase cat bond securities is forgiven and used by the sponsor to pay its claims to policy holders.

Questions of Causation frequently arise in many areas of the law, but causation is not a single, unvarying concept to be mechanically applied without regard to the context in which the question arises.

Lord Bingham in R v Kennedy [2007] UKHL 38

A dissent in a court of last resort is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error into which the dissenting judge believes the court to have been betrayed.

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes The Supreme Court of the United States 3rd ed 1936

The last ten years have seen the question of “but-for” causation brought into sharp focus in order to avoid the potential injustice to thousands of Mesothelioma victims who have contracted the disease and who now seek to establish a causal link between Mesothelioma and their exposure to asbestos during the course of their employment which may have taken place many years before. The central problem that has bedevilled such employer’s liability claims has been the difficulty in establishing when the disease was triggered.

Bermuda is Britain’s oldest overseas territory and the Privy Council in London is the final Court of Appeal from Decisions of the Court of Appeal in Bermuda. Further, the Supreme Court and Appeal Court of Bermuda are bound by decisions of the Privy Council in cases from all jurisdictions where the Privy Council is the final appellate court. It therefore pays to keep a close watch on Privy Council judgments. For example a judgment was recently delivered by Lord Neuberger on 23rd July, 2013 following a hearing in the case of Antigua Power Company Limited v The Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda and others (285 KB PDF) [2013] UKPC 23 in which he delivered a withering attack on the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal for its delay in handling the first appeal.

-A non-Bermudian can only buy a property in Bermuda if they have acquired a licence to do so. This involves applying to the Minister of National Security and paying an application fee which is approximately $1,500 and is refunded if the licence is granted. Once the licence is granted the licensee may purchase a property in Bermuda subject to certain restrictions. Not all property on the market in Bermuda is available to the licensees, and roughly only 5% of the market is accessible. These are generally houses that start at $3.5 million and condominiums that start at around $800,000. The houses must have a minimum ARV (Annual Rental Value) of $177,000 and the condos must have an ARV of at least $32,400 in order to be extended to non-Bermudians. Undeveloped land is not available to non-Bermudians and they are restricted from renting or subdividing the property which they have acquired.

Litigation surrounding Wills is steadily on the increase. In particular, issues of disputed testamentary capacity are becoming more frequent and as such, attorneys must be extremely cautious when taking Will instructions from individuals. What does this mean? Disputes involving lack of testamentary capacity refer to those that have to do with the determination of the mental state of the testator. When an attorney drafts a Will, he or she has the duty to be aware of the client’s competency, to ascertain whether the client is being subjected to undue influence and to make a reasonable assessment of the mental capacity of the client. An attorney should not draft a Will for a client unless the attorney believes that the client has testamentary capacity and a full comprehension of the nature and extent of the estate that he or she is distributing.

In my earlier post Bermuda Calling: Telecommunications Reform & Investment Opportunity, I described how telecommunications in Bermuda is undergoing root and branch reform with a view to not only making the industry more competitive but more attractive to investors. The overhaul in telecommunications, following extensive consultation with stakeholders, is embodied in two key pieces of legislation, the Regulatory Authority Act 2011 and the Electronic Communications Act 2011, both of which have become the twin foundation of Bermudian Regulatory Reform in the Telecommunications sector. Now, an update: On the 18th March 2013, Digicel issued an initial complaint to the Regulatory Authority stating that North Rock is providing bundling services and should not be doing so until Integrated Communication Operating Licenses (ICOLs) are issued. The complaint was a result of the examination of North Rock’s advertising material and flyers and their marketing campaign entitled “Blazing Bundles”.