Bermuda Law Blog

Bermuda’s Judiciary has now taken to publishing an annual report (2012 Annual Report (PDF)). One of the more revealing statistics to emerge for 2012 was that over 3,500 cases were commenced in the Magistrate’s Court by parties who were suing for money they claimed they are owed. Nearly 4,000 cases in one year! A huge number when you consider that this lower court only sets aside two days a week (Wednesday and Friday) to hear these disputes in the first or interlocutory instance. This averages out to 32 cases a day. It therefore has all the appearances of an active and busy court in a forum that is intended to be relatively quick and user-friendly. Parties are welcome to sue and defend claims in Magistrate’s Court without having to hire a lawyer. Typically, the lower court deals with landlord and tenant disputes, breaches of contract and negligence claims. There is, however, a ceiling on claims — they can be no more than $25,000. Nevertheless, it may still be helpful to seek the advice of an attorney before you launch a claim or prepare to defend one. Here’s a guide of what to expect in taking your claim to Magistrate’s Court:

Jennifer Haworth
Bermuda’s new One Bermuda Alliance Government has scrapped the “Measures to Inhibit Long-Term Residency” policy, more commonly known as the term limit policy, and undertaken a review of the Islands’ work permit policy, all with a view to encouraging economic growth and job opportunities for Bermudians. The initial announcement came on 30 January 2013 from Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy who called the term limit policy a “barrier to job creation”. Government has also sought to reassure Bermudians that doing away with term limits will not negatively impact their job opportunities given that the work permit policy remains in place. Bermuda’s work permit policy requires that when the renewal of a guest worker’s permit is sought, the position must be advertised giving qualified Bermudians an opportunity to apply. In addition, Government indicated that it sought legal advice to reaffirm advice already received by the previous Progressive Labour Party Government which confirmed that the term limit policy is not necessary to prevent long term residency.

Brian Holdipp
Bermuda’s new Government has re-affirmed the commitment made last year to develop the new Business Bermuda Development Corporation (“BBDC”) as the preferred vehicle to give common strategic direction to the Island’s business development efforts. The re-affirmation came most recently in the Budget Statement of the new Minister of Finance who said:
The BBDC is a private public partnership that is intended to spearhead the promotion of Bermuda as a preferred domicile for a variety of international business activities, including reinsurance, asset management, trusts and fund administration. This involves organizing all the relevant stakeholders and formulating a coherent mission for the BBDC and strategies to achieve that mission.
The BBDC will come under a new Ministry of Economic Development which has declared a twofold objective:

Timothy Frith
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 commitment to change has been signalled by the establishment of the much-needed, long-overdue Regulatory Authority and an easing of restrictions on foreign investment. 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 will become the twin foundation of Bermudian Regulatory Reform. One of the more important changes will be the removal of the requirement for separate licence categories based on services provided and the introduction of a single standard communications licence.

Cynthia Williams
Bermuda now boasts a new licensing and supervisory regime for professional corporate service providers designed to enhance the efficiency of incorporations in Bermuda. The changes, which came into effect at the start of the year, are regarded as good news for Bermuda as they will eliminate double vetting, decrease the need for due diligence on shareholders with voting rights of less than 10 percent and improve the efficiency of registration by using an electronic system that gives immediate results. In the ideal case a company could now be formed and registered within an hour. The new regime was established under the Bermuda Corporate Service Provider Business Act (“the CSP Act 2012”) which came into effect on January 1st, 2013.