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Gibraltar: Law of Offshore

Trust Law

The basic law of trusts is contained in the Gibraltar Trustee Ordinance, which is virtually a copy of English trust legislation. Gibraltarian legislation affecting trusts also includes the Perpetuities and Accumulations Ordinance 1986, the Trustee Investments Ordinance, the Bankruptcy Ordinance and the Trusts (Recognition) Ordinance which implemented the Hague Convention. Appeal is to the Privy Council.

There are no provisions for the exclusion of foreign inheritance laws or for the non-recognition of foreign judgements. Legislation has not yet been introduced to provide for purpose trusts.

As in the UK, the essential requirements of a trust in Gibraltar are that it is created orally or in writing and that a settlor conveys legal title to real property (land) or personal property (property other than land) into the name of one or more trustees to be administered in accordance with the wishes of the settlor for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.

Trust documents are in English, and there are no requirements for registration except that Asset Protection Trusts must be registered with the Registrar of Dispositions. There is no stamp duty. The normal perpetuity period of a Gibraltar trust is 100 years. There are no restrictions on the accumulation of income during the perpetuity period.

Gibraltar's asset protection trust legislation falls under the provisions of the Bankruptcy Amendment Ordinance 1992. This is unusual for offshore asset protection , which is dealt with under the law on fraudulent conveyancing laws in most offshore jurisdictions, as for instance in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

Fraudulent conveyancing laws depend for their effect on the statutory definition of 'intent' to defraud. By contrast, under bankruptcy law, which contains no definition of intent, the only direct action which can be commenced is a bankruptcy proceeding, which has a significantly tighter test of intent.

For a bankruptcy proceeding to succeed, it is necessary to show that the target (the settlor) is resident or domiciled in the jurisdiction, and that an 'act of bankruptcy' was committed there. Since most asset protection trusts are settled via exempt companies, whose owner (= the settlor) cannot be resident and a beneficiary, this will be difficult or impossible in many cases.



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