Seychelles: Law of Offshore
The International Trusts Act 1994 established, for the first time, a regime for international trusts in the Seychelles; it does not provide for domestic trusts. The Act was drafted after a thorough study of current practice in a number of leading offshore jurisdictions. Under the Act, the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) is appointed as the regulatory body for trusts, alongside the judiciary.
Though the Seychelles has a mixed legal system, its basis is in civil law, to which the concept of the trust is foreign. Hence the Act has to be self-sufficient and indeed it contains some basic definitions, including the admittance of charitable trusts, purpose trusts, constructive trusts and trusts resulting from court action. The following are some of the key features of the Seychelles trust regime:
- An international trust may be created in writing, by will or by oral declaration;
- The settlor must reside outside the Seychelles for the duration of the trust; at least one trustee must reside in the jurisdiction, but this trustee may be an International Business Company (IBC), which shall not thus be deemed as resident; an IBC may therefore be a settlor;
- A financial institution licensed under the Financial Institutions Act 1994 may also be a settlor;
- The trust property may not include any Seychelles movable or immovable property or interests or rights to them in a Seychelles company owning such property;
- The local trustee may with permission own local property for the trustees' accommodation, and, again with permission, may invest in local securities;
- The settlor may choose the proper law of the trust; in the absence of a choice, the Act provides guidelines for establishing the proper law; in any event, the Seychelles Court has exclusive jurisdiction, and will apply the proper law itself (this allows the Act's forced heirship provisions to be effective);
- The names of settlors and beneficiaries and the trust accounts are confidential under the Act, unless a Court orders disclosure under the Anti-money Laundering Act;
- The standard perpetuity period is 100 years; but it does not apply to charitable or purpose trusts; a settlor cannot revoke a trust, but the beneficiaries can; the Court may revoke a fraudulent trust;
- The accumulation of income is permitted;
- A settlor can also be a trustee, and a beneficiary but not the sole beneficiary;
- Forced heirship judgements are specifically excluded.
The Act contains extensive wording dealing with all aspects of the establishment of trusts, the rights and responsibilities of trustees and the powers of the court. The above brief details are given for purposes of general information; before any action is taken reference should be made to the Act itself and to professional advisers.