Trusts/private client in Bermuda


Providing clients with a ‘valued, knowledgeable and responsive service’, Appleby has expertise spanning the full spectrum of trust law issues, including the establishment, administration, restructuring and termination of private, charitable, purpose and commercial trusts. The ‘accessible and helpfulVanessa Schrum, who steers the non-contentious private client and trusts sub-team, specialises in advising ultra-high-net-worth clients on the use of trust structures, trust restructurings, the administration of large estates, probate and equity matters, and estate planning mandates. Meanwhile, the trust disputes practice is overseen by Steven White , who handles high-value trust litigation and court-approved restructurings, often appearing before the Commercial Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal for Bermuda. Fellow trust disputes expert Hannah Tildesley , who was promoted to partner in April 2021, and senior associate Caljonah Smith, who routinely makes applications for probate and reseal applications to the Supreme Court of Bermuda, are further names to note.

Practice head(s):

Vanessa Schrum; Steven White


‘Timely response and offering practical solutions.’

‘Vanessa Schrum is accessible and helpful, offering practical solutions. She explains legal developments and provides easy to understand case studies.’

A valued, knowledgeable and responsive service from a team that does not have a high turnover of staff, and provides service at a reasonable cost.’

We have dealt with Vanessa Schrum for the past 20 years, and valued her counsel on trust matters and attention to detail in the preparation of trust documentation.’

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.

Carey Olsen Bermuda Limited

Proficient in both contentious and non-contentious trust and private client work, Carey Olsen Bermuda LimitedComparative Guides promotional icon’s team is, ‘at all times, extremely responsive and attentive to pressured deadlines’, and clients mark it out in the market as a ‘go-to trusts firm for trustees and beneficiaries alike’. Complementing the contentious trust expertise of practice head Keith Robinson  (‘one of the foremost offshore trust lawyers‘) are his capabilities on the non-contentious side; he routinely advises trustees, beneficiaries, settlors and protectors, offering advice that is ‘thoughtful and in consideration of all of the issues and possible pitfalls’. As current chair of the Bermuda branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, counsel Ashley Fife excels in private and commercial trusts, as well as the regulatory issues affecting trustees, corporate service providers, trusts and underlying entities.

Practice head(s):

Keith Robinson


‘The team provides solid technical advice for practical application, with timely delivery, and are always willing to go the extra mile to support their clients needs.’

‘Excellent work from Keith Robinson and Ashley Fife.’

‘The private client team at Carey Olsen are, at all times, extremely responsive and attentive to pressured deadlines. During Covid restrictions, they were able to accurately provide guidance in terms of applications to Court for submissions and arrangements of hearing dates when the situation was not clear to everyone. They provide clear and concise advice for our Trust teams to make informed decisions.’

‘Keith Robinson is always our first point of contact in dealing with potential contentious trust issues. He is extremely responsive, with a full appreciation of the demands and pressures of the Private Client Trust industry. His advice is thoughtful and in consideration of all of the issues and possible pitfalls. He has brought together a fantastic team of Private Client lawyers with a clear focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.’

Very approachable and no job too small. Keith Robinson is an excellent lawyer – always commercial and succinct – a pleasure to work with.’

The Bermuda office is still relatively new but has made a series of excellent hires.’

Keith Robinson is in my opinion by far the best trust litigator in Bermuda but also an excellent non-contentious lawyer. My go-to Bermuda trust lawyer if given a choice.’

Carey Olsen combines first-class legal expertise with a clear analysis of the difficulties facing trustees and beneficiaries in particular cases. Also Keith Robinson is one of the foremost offshore trust lawyers, combining deep academic knowledge of trusts law and a talent for successful strategic thinking. He makes Carey Olsen a go-to trusts firm for trustees and beneficiaries alike.’

Key clients

Bermuda Trust Company Limited

Grosvenor Trust Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing BCT Limited in a matter concerning a very substantial Bermuda trust which has resulted in very extensive litigation over the past several years, including an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
  • Represented a Bermuda licensed trust company in a dispute that was on appeal to the Court of Appeal for Bermuda, later dismissed.
  • Represented a major Bermuda licensed trust company in a successful action in the Supreme Court of Bermuda to remove the Protector on the grounds that he had been censured by his local Bar Association because, inter alia, he had counselled a prospective client to engage in criminal conduct.


Headed up by Peter Pearman , who ‘can be counted on for experience, wisdom and thoughtful creativity’, Conyers’ team is applauded for its ‘knowledge of trusts law, commercial law and other legal areas relevant to private client work’. In the non-contentious space, a large bulk of the work encompasses advising a range of clients on inheritance structuring work, private investment structures, inter-generational asset transfers, pensions and regulatory law. Pearman also frequently handles complex contentious trust matters, including high-value, cross-border disputes. Elsewhere, Craig MacIntyre  ‘has emerged as a highly successful partner’; Helen Cooper is viewed as a ‘calm, collected, highly experienced expert in her field’; counsel Stephanie Bernard has in-depth experience advising individuals and fiduciaries on private trust companies and variation of trusts, as well as international and local pensions. In a recent development, the highly rated Anna Bruce-Smith was promoted to partner in April 2021.


I have been very impressed by their knowledge of trusts law, commercial law and other legal areas relevant to private client work. I have also been very impressed by their good judgment, client care and sheer hard work.’

‘High praise for Ben Adamson, Helen Cooper, Anna Bruce-Smith and Peter Pearman. Knowledgeable, thoughtful, sensible and able to build rapport with clients.’

‘Partners are extremely competent and able to provide appropriate and practical guidance on substantive estate planning matters with respect to Bermuda and as Bermuda compares to other offshore jurisdictions.’

‘Practical, timely responses to inquiries.’

‘I have worked with a number of the lawyers at Conyers for over 15 years. We instruct them on some of our most significant matters, for clients with assets of hundreds of millions of dollars, and in many cases, billions.’

‘I have worked the most with, and think extremely highly of, Peter Pearman, Helen Cooper, Craig MacIntyre and Karen Corless. Each is extremely knowledgeable, dedicated and hard-working, sophisticated in his or her practice and displays valuable judgment. Peter Pearman is the senior partner of the group and can be counted on for experience, wisdom and thoughtful creativity. Craig MacIntyre has emerged as a highly successful partner, expert in many fields, very practical and solution focused. Helen Cooper is a calm, collected, highly experienced expert in her field with whom we work regularly, always to our delight. Karen Corless is a very talented trust lawyer with great experience and judgment.’

Ben Adamson is fiercely bright and knowledgeable in this arena, with a commercial approach. Clients love him, and rightly so. Peter Pearman is a grandfather of Bermuda trusts. Anna Bruce-Smith is hard-working, practical and clever.’

Conyers has established itself as the pre-eminent practice – with experienced specialist trusts and private client dispute resolution partners who ensure that a comprehensive contentious, as well as non-contentious service, is available to clients, increasingly invaluable as large scale trusts litigation is having to be handled by the Bermuda Courts.’

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited’s well-respected litigation department has a proven track record in high-value trust and estate disputes in Bermuda, attracting praise for its deep understanding of ‘the specifics and nuisances of trust litigation versus commercial litigation’. Senior counsel David Kessaram frequently represents trustees, executors and beneficiaries, both domestic and international, in complex estate and trust litigation with multi-jurisdictional considerations.  Providing key support to Kessaram is Matthew Watson, who is recognised as a ‘good up-and-coming advocate who is able to step into the breach’.

Practice head(s):

David Kessaram

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Watson


Very impressive practice with excellent client skills, unwavering dedication to excellence and total commitment to the case.’

Matthew Watson is incredibly hard-working, a first-class lawyer with superb tactical litigation skills.’

‘Experience, judgement and unfailing hard work in achieving results for clients in complex high-value cases.’

‘Matt Watson is unfailingly charming and relaxed with clients while ensuring that his relentless hard work and experienced insight achieves the results they need.’

‘I have been impressed by Matthew Watson. He is very communicative and responsive and it is a pleasure to work with him.’

Cox Hallett Wilkinson are an extremely user-friendly and accessible firm.’

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