Higgs & Johnson > Lyford, Bahamas > Firm Profile

Higgs & Johnson
Lyford Crescent, Western Road

Bahamas > Corporate law (including banking, finance and M&A) Tier 1

Higgs & Johnson‘s commercial transactions practice advises on all Bahamian aspects of cross-border transactions, financings and M&A, with particular expertise in the finance, utilities, telecoms, hospitality and oil and gas sectors. The firm has also been active in drafting legislation and works closely with the relevant regulatory agencies to develop the jurisdiction’s financial services law; it also has notable expertise in issues relating to counter terrorist financing and anti-money laundering matters. Vivienne Gouthro, Zarina Fitzgerald and Christel Sands-Feaste jointly lead the practice; Gouthro also leads the firm’s maritime and aviation group, Fitzgerald is ‘very responsible and attuned to commercial practices‘ and Sands-Feaste leads the financial services and securities and investment funds practices. Other key individuals include Portia Nicholson, who leads the firm’s newly formed tax group; Alexandra Hall, who leads the recently established government and regulatory affairs group; co-managing partner Sterling Cooke and associate Andre Hill.


‘Very good knowledge of the local and political landscape and how this impacts decisions and legal direction. Also their experience in how international business can be best conducted is great.’

‘Our primary contact is Portia Nicholson. Portia has a good way to work through various options that are more complicated and need creative thinking.’

‘Very responsive and commercially oriented.’

‘Zarina Fitzgerald is very responsible and attuned to commercial practices.’

‘Portia Nicholson is the Corporate Partner my company deals with. She is very experienced and delivers clear and concise advice – which is exactly what I want and need as a client.’

‘Portia Nicholson is a top drawer lawyer.’

‘I am of the view that H&J provides the best service in The Bahamas. They take a conservative outlook and are careful and thoughtful in their advice, which is delivered in a timely manner. Zarina Fitzgerald is the epitome of this.’

Bahamas > Dispute resolution Tier 2

The ‘reactive and reliable’ practice at Higgs & Johnson fields a large litigation practice, which is headed up by Tara Archer-Glasgow, who ‘provides advice that is sound, well thought out and grounded in the law’. The department acts for a broad range of local and international clients and handles the full spectrum of contentious mandates; key areas of expertise include cross-border litigation, asset recovery claims, trust disputes, financial services and regulatory claims, insolvency and restructuring mandates, employment cases and tax proceedings. The group is also a key name in the market for alternative dispute resolution and arbitration proceedings. Philip Dunkley, co-managing partner Oscar Johnson, Jr. , Vann Gaitor, Leroy Smith, Karen Brown and Audley Hanna are also key names to note.

Practice head(s):


‘Higgs and Johnson is known to be one of the leading law firms in the Bahamas. Its leadership team is well respected in the country and abroad. They offer a wide range of professionals to assist with your legal needs.’

‘It stands out by name and reputation in the country. Our experience has been mostly in the area of dispute resolution and the two lawyers we have dealt with have been excellent over the years.’

‘Tara Archer-Glasgow is an excellent lawyer, very pleasant with a great personality which has resulted in a wonderful Lawyer/Client relationship. From my personal observations and interaction with her over the years, it’s obvious that she is well versed in the Law and confident in her legal counsel and advice. She can explain the Law in laymen’s terms and intelligently answer all your questions about any matter being dealt with. Mrs. Archer-Glasgow’s legal advice has always proven to be sound, well thought out and grounded in the law. Whether communicating with her electronically or in person she can calm one’s anxieties no matter what the legal situation involves. I have the utmost confidence in her legal guidance and the greatest respect for her openness and honesty as a lawyer.’

‘Keith Major – I was very impressed with his persona, professionalism and legal astuteness. He has proven to be very thorough in his preparation and confident in his presentation in the court room. Despite his obvious legal knowledge and understanding of the Law, he is a very humble and respectable gentleman in and out of the court room. I personally believe that he has a very bright future in the legal profession.’

‘Very responsive, adapts to the needs of the client, creative and very easy to work with.’

‘Tara Archer-Glasgow has been exceptional to work with. Clear in her advice, extremely responsive and understands the needs of the individual client.’

‘There is a depth of knowledge and experience within the team and the team has a wide array of experts in key areas needed by my company. This is their strength along with a collaborative approach internally that appears part of the culture of the practice.’

‘We work very closely with attorneys Tara Archer and Audley Hanna. They are responsive, thorough and fully understand our business which makes them very valuable as attorneys. They are each capable as attorneys and Tara has been an outstanding litigator on our behalf.’

Bahamas > Real estate Tier 2

Handling a wide variety of real estate transactions, Higgs & Johnson primarily acts for international and Bahamian developers on resorts, cruise ship developments, mixed-use developments, condos and marina properties. The team also counts financial institutions and private individuals on its client roster, which is advises on property sales and acquisitions and the related title work, and also leverages the expertise of the firm’s in-house search department, which handles conveyancing issues. Stephen Melvin now leads the real estate and development group, taking over from Sterling Cooke, who is now co-managing partner of the firm: Cooke still maintains an active real estate practice. Other individuals include Vivienne Gouthro, who leads the maritime and aviation group; and senior associate Sandy Lightbourn.

Practice head(s):


‘Higgs and Johnson has a sound reputation for professionalism, knowledge and experience. Their team understands the real estate market and is thorough in their documentation and opinions.’

‘We normally work with Sterling Cooke who is always accessible. He makes himself available to talk to clients and other law firms if warranted. We appreciate his understanding of the local real estate market.’

‘Probably one of the best real estate legal teams in The Bahamas – very experienced and knowledgeable and high levels of service.’

‘Stephen Melvin is an outstanding lawyer ably assisted by Sandy Lightbourn. Their work is of the quality we need in a complex environment.’

‘Higgs & Johnson is a well respected legal firm that puts the best interests of their clients first at all times on a timely basis. They are a very knowledgeable, professional and welcoming firm.’

‘Vivienne Gouthro has thorough knowledge of all legal aspects of the law and she is able to relay this knowledge to her clients. She is very patient and takes the time with her clients to ensure they understand completely. Very honest and hardworking individual who promptly responds to all issues no matter how trivial.’


Firm Overview:
Higgs & Johnson has more than a half-century of experience and is one of the largest full-service corporate and commercial law firms in the Bahamas. The firm’s highly qualified attorneys are among the best in their respective fields as providers of superior, results-oriented legal advice and exceptional personalised service.

Main Areas of Practice:

Higgs & Johnson is engaged in a broad spectrum of international litigation, and accustomed to working with lawyers from other jurisdictions in co-ordinating cross border litigation strategies for client success. In the past decade the group has been involved in some of the most notable international cases, acting as counsel in matters involving substantial sums of money.

Real Estate & Development:
The firm has experience in a variety of real property transactions and has acted in the sale and purchase of an oil refinery, hotels, the establishment of commercial time-share complexes and other substantial commercial properties. A steady stream of individuals in the sale and purchase of residences and private islands are served.

Securities & Investment Funds: The group offers a wide range of services in relation to investment funds, derivatives, capital markets, collective investment schemes and financial products.

Financial Services, Insurance & Regulation: The group has extensive experience in the regulatory and anti-money laundering fields and is well versed in the laws and regulations governing the financial services industry of the Bahamas, currently advising a substantial number of local and international banks, trust companies and securities firms.

Private Client & Wealth Management:
Several of the firm’s attorneys are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), an international organisation of trust practitioners. The firm is accustomed to liaising and working with offshore legal advisors to ensure efficient tax structures, and is an industry leader in Asset Protection Trusts, Private Trust Companies (PTCs), Purpose Trusts, Foundations and Executive Entities.

Insolvency & Corporate Restructuring:
The firm’s comprehensive insolvency group regularly advises on matters concerning the rights of creditors, the best solutions for recovery of creditors’ debts in insolvency matters, and the powers and duties of liquidators and receivers.

Maritime & Aviation
The Bahamas is the world’s third largest shipping registry. The firm has acted in the registration and financing of much of the tonnage presently on the Bahamian Registry. This practice also covers a variety of matters involving clients’ aviation concerns including acquisition and registration of aircraft, aircraft mortgages and the use of corporate structures in multi-jurisdictional transactions to facilitate aircraft leasing and financing, consistent with Western & Middle Eastern financial institutions.

Intellectual Property:
This group focuses on the regulation of rights regarding ideas, trademarks, patents and copyrights. Attorneys are able to advise on the rights to transfer these ideas, and compensation for transaction through licensing fees.

Commercial Transactions:
The Bahamas is a premier International Financial Centres, having a real connection with many large international financing projects. The firm has substantial experience as advisers on all aspects of financing projects.

Company Formation & Management:
H&J Corporate Services Ltd. is a premier provider of corporate administrative services both to local and international clients. H&J Management Services Ltd. provide company formation and property management services. H&J Fiduciary Services Ltd. provides registered representative services for PTCs in The Bahamas. Visit www.hjcorporate.com

The firm’s clients are local and international banks, global law and accountancy firms, trust companies, investment firms, multimillion dollar touristic developments, multinational companies, and high networth individuals.

International Work:
Coupled with strong connections with leading firms in New York, London, Zurich, Geneva, Hong Kong, São Paulo and other commercial centres, Higgs & Johnson has a talented and knowledgeable team of experienced attorneys, with additional administrative, financial and technical support to deliver timely, accurate and relevant service to clients around the world.

Litigation Oscar N. Johnson, Jr.ojohnson@higgsjohnson.com242 502 5200
Tara Burnside photoMrs Tara BurnsideTara is a partner in the firm’s Litigation, Financial Services Law &…
Philip Dunkley photoMr Philip DunkleySenior Partner; specialises in complex commercial and chancery litigation (appearing in the…
Stephen Melvin photoMr Stephen MelvinStephen has significant experience in the representation of local and international property…
Leroy Smith photoMr Leroy SmithLeroy is a Partner in the firm’s Litigation practice group in The…