Trusts/private client in Bermuda

Appleby

Appleby advises on a range of matters which arise under Bermudan trust law, including the establishment, administration, restructuring and termination of private, charitable, purpose and commercial trusts. The private client and trusts practice is led by Vanessa Schrum, who has a global client roster of ultra-high-net-worth clients who she regularly advises on the use of Bermuda private and commercial trust structures, including purpose trusts, unit trusts, pension trusts, and trust restructurings. Additionally, the firm’s trust disputes team, which is led by Steven White and includes counsel Hannah Tildesley, regularly acts for trustees, settlors, protectors and beneficiaries in high-value trust litigation and court-approved restructurings. Promoted to senior associate in mid-2020, Caljonah Smith has particular expertise in applications for probate and reseal applications to the Supreme Court of Bermuda. At senior counsel and counsel level respectively, contentious trusts expert John Riihiluoma and wills and estates specialist Michael Mello QC are other practitioners to note.

Practice head(s):

Vanessa Schrum; Steven White

Key clients

The Estate of Hung Wen- Hsiung

WeSpeak Charitable Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for an individual in proceedings bought by one of the heirs of one of Taiwan’s most significant business empires, involving The Estate of Hung Wen-Hsiung.
  • Engaged to provide advice on the establishment of the WeSpeak Charitable Trust to be registered as a Bermuda charity.

Conyers

Alongside its thriving non-contentious expertise, the 'exceptionally strong' Conyers private client and trusts team works with the firm’s litigation department on a raft of the region’s high-value, cross-border trusts disputes. Alec Anderson, who recently retired, was replaced as global head of private client and trust by Peter Pearman, whose practice encompasses commercial transactions involving trust elements, as well as complex estate planning matters. Aside from its disputes expertise, which includes experience in the protection of family wealth from divorce and other forms of litigation, the team advises ultra-high-net-worth individuals, families, trustees and corporate clients on a broad range of issues, including inheritance structuring work, private investment structures, inter-generational asset transfers, pensions and regulatory law. Helen Cooper, counsel Stephanie Bernard and Craig MacIntyre are other key members of the team, which includes Anna Bruce-Smith and Nicola Bruce at senior associate level.

Practice head(s):

Peter Pearman

Testimonials

‘An exceptionally strong litigation and trust team in Bermuda and across other offshore jurisdictions. Great strength in depth in Private Client work and long established reputation.’

‘The Conyers private client team works seamlessly with their litigation and corporate practices, making them an excellent full-service resource for Bermudian legal advice.’

‘Ben Adamson is first rate. He is calm under pressure and a voice of reason in difficult situations.’

‘Approachable, knowledgeable, in the top tier for Bermuda private client firms.’

‘Peter Pearman – the go to expert when looking for technical analysis. Christian Luthi – pragmatic. Anna Bruce Smith and Stephanie Bernard – always happy to help and next generation of stars.’

‘Good reputation for trust litigation. One of the few go to firms in the jurisdiction.’

‘Ben Adamson – unflappable, highly intelligent, knowledgeable and able to grasp details and issues very quickly.’

‘Conyers are justly regarded as the premier trusts/private client firm in Bermuda with decades of expertise. Their strength in depth was reflected in the fact that when their previous Head of Private Client Alec Anderson retired from private practice they were able to appoint him with another top rank lawyer in the form of Peter Pearman.’

‘Peter Pearman – head of Trusts & Private Client is a first class trusts lawyer with a lot of practical experience. Jeff Elkinson and Ben Adamson on the litigation side are excellent advocates.’

‘A full service firm, filled with talented lawyers. Top rate.’

‘Jeffrey Elkinson – a true star of the Bermuda trust sphere.’

Carey Olsen Bermuda Limited

Extremely responsive and attuned to the needs of their clients’, the key team members in Carey Olsen Bermuda Limited’s trusts and private client team are skilled ‘in dealing both with technical trust matters and any Court-related requirements’. Described as ‘a master in trust litigation’, the department is led by Keith Robinson, who also advises trustees, beneficiaries, settlors and protectors on non-contentious Bermuda trust matters. Currently chair of the Bermuda branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, counsel Ashley Fife has particular expertise in private and commercial trusts.

Practice head(s):

Keith Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Ashley Fife; Cheri Minors; Henry Tucker

Testimonials

‘Very strong team in dealing both with technical trust matters and any Court related requirements. Detailed analysis and quick turnaround.’

‘Keith Robinson is excellent. Ably supported by Ashley Fife on trust matters.’

‘The team at Carey Olsen is outstanding. Keith Robinson is a master in trust litigation, and I cannot say enough about Carey Olsen. The team of partners and associates are extremely responsive and attuned to the needs of their clients. I have also had the opportunity to work with Ashley Fife on trust matters. Every single member of the Carey Olsen team delivers the same standard of service across the board. The team takes pride in their work and take every step to ensure that, as a client, I understand the process as well as the potential pitfalls and outcome. Carey Olsen is our designated counsel.’

‘Responsive and knowledgeable of current events and best practices.’

‘Approachable and creative with ideas and suggestions.’

‘The team is a relatively small, but highly expert number of individuals. They have a wide range of skills, both contentious and non-contentious, and have attracted talent from competitor firms.’

‘Keith Robinson is a very effective trusts litigator who is both pragmatic and intellectually rigorous. Once of the brightest lawyers I have come across in this practice area and definitely a leading light of the Bermuda bar.’

Key clients

Lyndhurst Limited

Work highlights

  • Defended Lyndhurst Limited in an application for an interim injunction by an individual seeking to prevent it from distributing trust assets received by it from a Bahamian trustee.
  • Advised a Bermuda licenced trust company on an application to the Supreme Court to remove the protector where the protector had been subject to professional conduct proceedings in the US and the relationship between the trustee and the protector as well as the beneficiaries and protector had broken down.
  • Represented a major Bermuda licenced trust company as improperly appointed trustee of a Bermuda law trust which holds an extremely valuable global business empire; commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court seeking to have the trustee appointed, protectors appointed and for directions.

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited

Senior counsel David Kessaram heads up Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited's litigation department, which is regularly instructed in some of Bermuda's high-value trust and estate disputes. The 'well-respected' team acts for a range of trustees, executors and beneficiaries, both domestic and international in scope. Promoted to director in 2020, Matthew Watson in particular 'is very responsive to client demands and gives good commercial advice'.

Practice head(s):

David Kessaram

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Watson; Anne Campbell

Testimonials

‘Established, extremely well-respected entity in Bermuda.V ital combination of ethical, experienced long-standing upper management aided by newer international and domestic colleagues.’

‘Cox Hallett Wilkinson are extremely user friendly and accessible.’

‘Matthew Watson is a good and up and coming individual who is able to step into the breach. Matthew is very responsive to client demands and gives good commercial advice.’

‘Possibly smaller than some of its Bermudian rivals, but that gives it an advantage in terms of personal attention applied to the case and it is deservedly attracting top quality work.’

‘Matt Watson is an absolute delight to work with: incredibly hard-working, excellent commercial brain, superb attention to detail and a first-rate lawyer. No praise for him is too high.’

‘David Kessaram offers decades of experience and brings a steady and reassuring elder statesman hand to his cases.’

‘A niche firm with real depth and quality in it its private client offering.’

‘Associate Anne Campbell is a rising star in the Bermudan private client world. She has had rich and valuable experience in London, before moving to the Caribbean. She has the ability to work at speed, and to very high standards, while being receptive and sensitive to the client’s needs. She also has the breadth of vision to see any potential litigation elements.’

Work highlights

  • Advised beneficiaries on the successful defence of an application to remove independent professional trustees from 78 family trusts.
  • Advised State House Trust Company on an urgent application to remove a Protector accused of financial wrong-doing.