Bermuda: Law of Offshore
The Legal Profession
The judiciary in Bermuda is independent, consisting of Magistrates' Courts, the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice (appointed by the Governor), and the Court of Appeal. There is an appeal to the Privy Council in London in some instances.
The law itself is mostly based on English Common Law, although it has diverged in some respects, and there are many Bermudian statutes dealing with business and local affairs.
The legal profession is fused, consisting of attorneys or barristers. Entrants to the profession must have qualified in the UK or a Commonwealth country. The profession is regulated by the Bermuda Bar Association, under a Barristers' Code of Professional Conduct.
The Code of Conduct deals inter alia with conflicts, confidentiality, fees and disputes, handling of clients' money and liability insurance. Some particular points are as follows:
- There are no contingency fees, other than in connection with undefended debt cases;
- Hourly fee rates for partners are between BMD300 and BMD500 (at the time of writing), and for fee-earners between BMD200 and BMD400;
- Professional indemnity cover is not mandatory, although it is understood that the larger firms do carry it - wise to check, therefore;
- Client's money is held in a designated client account.
There are a number of law firms in Bermuda, some with particular specialisations. Most firms have associated trust companies which are licensed by the Finance Ministry (see Trust Companies).