Firm Profile > Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited > Hamilton, Bermuda

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited
Cedar House, 3rd Floor
41 Cedar Avenue
Hamilton, HM 12
Bermuda

Banking, finance and capital markets Tier 2

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited has a notably track record in assisting clients with IPOs and public company fund raisings, structured financing matters, and banking and asset financing work, particularly in the aviation and shipping sectors. Managing director Ernest Morrison and senior associates Janice Gutteridge and Kathleen Moniz are the names to note.

Dispute resolution Tier 2

Singled out for its ‘extremely user-friendly and accessible’ advice, the group at Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited handles the full gamut of international litigation, including trust and estate disputes, shareholder and director disputes, and insolvency and restructuring matters. Locally, the practice acts in medical claims, employment litigation, property disputes, and divorce and financial ancillary relief matters. Headed up by Craig Rothwell, who specialises in personal injury claims, the team includes experienced senior counsel David Kessaram and newly promoted director Matthew Watson, who have both seen an uptick in high-value trust and estate disputes. Kim White is also notably active in this space.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

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

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

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

‘David Kessaram: total integrity, learned, patient and persistent.’

‘Matthew Watson: honest, studious, legal-detail oriented, energetic presence.’

‘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.’

‘The hidden gem of the Caribbean! CHW bring an unusually creative and imaginative approach to dispute resolution, along with top-level commitment and round-the-clock availability. At CHW they are light on their feet and able to move very fast to cover the sudden twists and turns which inevitably arise in litigation.’

‘Matthew Watson is an absolute star. He’s done it all in Australia, and is now revelling in the global dispute resolution work on offer in Bermuda. He is not just reactive, but is strategic, and gives deep and incisive thought to all issues confronting his clients. David Kessaram has a wealth of experience to draw on, and to share with his colleagues. if he has not seen it, it never happened. Craig Rothwell is a remarkably firm hand on the tiller.’

‘David Kessaram’s experienced and steady hand is very reassuring for clients. Matthew Watson is very proactive and an effective operator in the court room.’ 

Key clients

GCX Limited / Reliance Globalcom Limited

KPMG Advisory Services Limited as the Joint Liquidators of Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences Limited (in liquidation)

Colonial Insurance, Freisenbruch-Meyer Group, Ascendant Group (including BELCO)

Caroline Bay Limited

Bermuda Hospitals Board/ Medical Protection Society

Real estate Tier 2

Lorren Wilson leads Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited’s private client and real estate department, which advises a mix of domestic and international clients on residential and commercial property transactions. Highlights include commercial and residential freehold and leasehold property acquisitions and disposals, property financings and infrastructure projects.

Practice head(s):

Corporate and commercial Tier 3

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited primarily advises on the Bermudan elements of M&A deals, with expertise in the captive insurance, natural resources, aviation, shipping, investment funds, retail and telecoms sectors. Managing director Ernest Morrison also assists clients with corporate governance and regulatory issues. Janice Gutteridge and Kathleen Moniz are other key practitioners in the space.

Trusts/private client Tier 3

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):

Other key lawyers:

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.’

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited (“CHW”) is one of Bermuda’s leading commercial law firms and provides an extensive range of legal services to a diverse local and international clientele, focusing primarily on corporate and commercial, litigation and dispute resolution, private client, estate planning, real estate and intellectual property related matters in a practical, cost effective and timely manner. Our business approach is to provide a high standard of professional advice delivered by a core team of attorneys and to develop close working and, in many cases, long-standing relationships with our clients and overseas counsel around the globe.

Networks:

CHW is a member of the Meritas international law firm network, a global alliance of more than 183 independent law firms spanning over 86 countries. Meritas members provide high quality legal services worldwide and work together to provide clients with a local legal partner with in depth international resources.

Main Areas of Practice:

Corporate and Commercial

CHW’s Corporate & Commercial department is presently recognised as one of the leading corporate and commercial practices in Bermuda. Our attorneys have developed a broad corporate skill set and together we advise on a wide range of matters, including:

  • mergers and acquisitions of public and private companies
  • IPO’s and public company fund raisings
  • structured financing & private equity
  • the establishment, operation and regulation of insurance and reinsurance companies
  • corporate governance and regulatory issues
  • the formation, listing and regulation of investment funds
  • Pension trust funds
  • share option schemes
  • global restructuring projects involving Bermuda entities, both private and public
  • banking and asset financing, including aviation and shipping finance
  • the registration of aircraft and shipping vessels in Bermuda
  • the incorporation of Bermuda companies and the formation of limited liability companies, purposes trusts, partnerships and the registration of overseas partnerships.

Litigation

CHW has one of the leading litigation practices in Bermuda led by experienced advocates with between 20-40 years experience at the Bermuda Bar and supported by a talented team of Senior Associates and Associates. The department is equally adept at servicing high net worth individuals, directors, shareholders, and companies globally and locally whilst also facilitating important access to justice. The department prides itself on client service; cost efficiency; and providing effective strategic advice that achieves positive results. The attorneys in CHW’s litigation team have specialised experience in the following areas:

  • trust matters including disputes between beneficiaries and/or with the trustees (e.g. removal of trustees or breach of trust actions) and variation or setting aside of trust settlements
  • contractual, investment and shareholder disputes, including of a cross-border nature
  • contentious probate
  • directors and officers liability suits
  • insurance/re-insurance disputes
  • insolvency and restructuring
  • professional malpractice matters
  • banking including in respect of mortgages, loan facilities and guarantees
  • employment law
  • personal injury matters
  • family and matrimonial law including divorce, children and financial matters
  • landlord and tenant disputes
  • construction disputes.

CHW’s litigation attorneys have provided expert evidence as to Bermuda law in foreign proceedings, working closely alongside foreign counsel, and also act in mediation and arbitration matters either as advocates or as a nominated or sole arbitrator.

Private Client and Real Estate

CHW’s private client attorneys advise on a range of commercial and residential real estate transactions, offering advice on all aspects of freehold and leasehold property matters, acquisitions and sale of commercial and residential property.

Our private client attorneys also advise on matters including

  • estate planning and general estate advice
  • formation of special purpose trusts, pension plan trusts, charitable and other trust structures
  • trust management and administration
  • wills and probate matters.

Coson Corporate Services Limited

Its affiliated company, Coson Corporate Services Limited (“Coson”), a licensed corporate service provider regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, provides corporate administration services to a variety of local and exempted companies, including those in the insurance, reinsurance, mutual funds, investment holdings, international trade, shipping and aviation industries. Coson also offers a full range of administrative services to local and exempted partnerships and LLCs established in Bermuda.

State House Trust Company Limited

CHW is also affiliated with State House Trust Company Limited, a licensed trust company regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, providing trustee and related private client services including:

  • acting as trustee of trusts
  • acting as executor and trustee of wills
  • implementation of international estate planning and management of family assets
  • administration of private trust companies.
Department Name Email Telephone
Corporate Ernest Morrison emorrison@chw.com +(441) 294-1503
Litigation Craig Rothwell crothwell@chw.com +(441) 294-1533
Private Clients Lorren Wilson lwilson@chw.com +(441) 294-1511
General Enquiries General Enquiries chw@chw.com +(441) 295-4630
Photo Name Position Profile
Miss Janice Gutteridge  photo Miss Janice Gutteridge Senior Associate
Mr David Kessaram  photo Mr David Kessaram Senior Counsel
Mrs Kathleen Moniz photo Mrs Kathleen Moniz Senior Associate
Mr Ernest Morrison  photo Mr Ernest Morrison Managing Director, Head of Corporate & Commercial Department
Mr Craig Rothwell  photo Mr Craig Rothwell Director & Head of Litigation Department
Mr Matthew Watson  photo Mr Matthew Watson Senior Associate
Mr Kim White  photo Mr Kim White Director
 Lorren Wilson photo Lorren Wilson Director and Head of Conveyancing and Private Clients
Directors : 4
Attorneys : 8
Paralegals : 1
English (fluent)
Danish

Ernest Morrison, Managing Director

Ernest Morrison, Managing Director, discusses the current state of the legal market in Bermuda

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited from your competitors?

Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited is a leading law firm in commercial and corporate and dispute resolution matters in the Bermuda legal market. Our commitment is to provide a high standard of professional advice delivered by a talented and experienced core team of attorneys and to develop long-standing relationships with our clients and counsel around the globe.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

There continues to be a high level of transactional and advisory activity as Bermuda continues to attract clients seeking the highest quality advice and services. Recognised as a well-regulated and stable environment, Bermuda offers a suite of legal structures (including but not limited to trusts, exempted companies, exempted limited liability companies and partnerships) that can be tailored to individual circumstances across a number of industries, including insurance. This drives both the transactional and dispute resolution areas of our firm’s practice.

Our dispute resolution team continues to act on a number of contentious and of non-contentious trust matters. They have achieved success for clients in a number of recently reported judgments that have enabled trustees and beneficiaries to effectively continue to manage family wealth through Bermuda law trusts. The dispute resolution team is also regularly involved in complex commercial litigation matters – often with related proceedings before the Bermuda Courts and foreign Courts.

The corporate and commercial department continues to assist on the largest infrastructure development undertaken in Bermuda, cross-border restructurings and several large asset-financing matters. The recent trend in Bermuda’s insurance industry has seen a consolidation of several key industry players. Such consolidation allows the continued growth of the key players, while also creating room in the market for new start-ups to establish their presence in Bermuda, particularly with an eye on the impact of Brexit. Bermuda’s Solvency II designation continues to attract interest from those insurers looking to establish in a premier insurance market. The Fintech industry continues to expand along–side the Government of Bermuda’s commitment to develop Bermuda as a Fintech jurisdiction of choice.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Cox Hallett Wilkinson is committed to practical, timely and cost effective manner. The firm is led by experienced leading attorneys, with 20-40 years experience in their fields, supported by an efficient team of highly skilled Senior Associates and Associates. Its attorneys continue to remain current with legal developments and are often involved in cases that shape Bermuda law. Our clients benefit from this pool of accrued knowledge. The full-service nature of our commercial firm, together with our strong international relationships, equip our firm to satisfy our client’s local and cross-border needs effectively. Our firm also strives to provide updates to our clients on new regulatory developments in Bermuda, such as the introduction of the beneficial ownership register and the introduction of data protection legislation, to ensure that our clients are informed and positioned to adapt to change.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology has had an undeniable impact on how we interact with our clients, locally and internationally. The rise of Blockchain and other Fintech products in the Bermuda’s legal market have given rise to a new industry, which has received the full support of the Bermuda Government and led to several new pieces of legislation as Bermuda seeks to amend its banking laws in order to establish Bermuda as the jurisdiction of choice for Fintech.

Additionally the rise of risk management has resulted in the need for increasing cyber security to protect our client’s interests while balancing the need to maintain confidentiality and comply with the new European data protection requirements (GDPR), as well as Bermuda’s own regime (PIPA).

Social media continues to provide new methods of communicating with our clients in the form of client alerts and bulletins, as well as engaging new clients.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

Our corporate attorneys have developed a broad corporate skill set and together we advise on a wide range of matters. By way of example we assisted with Bermuda law matters relating to a reinsurance arrangement transferring financial responsibility for all of the structured settlement annuity contracts and smaller block income with $5.7 billion in total statutory reserves to a Class E life insurer established in Bermuda. Additionally our attorneys have advised several clients with new bond issues and assisted with numerous asset financings and security registrations.

Our litigation team provides strategic advice reflective of a thoughtful analysis of legal, commercial and personal considerations and risk. By way of example, we have acted for trustees in trust variation applications to maintain privacy of ultra high net worth families whilst facilitating effective wealth planning for successive generations; and acted for beneficiaries in contested trust applications as to achieve stability of significant underlying businesses of which they derive wealth.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms ‐ where do you see the firm in 3 years time?

It is our experience that our clients look for and expect stability and strategic direction from their legal advisors, as it is critical to provide such stability. Our large international clients regularly review their corporate structure from a tax and legal perspective and expect their legal advisors to work collaboratively with their other advisors to ensure compliance with their strategic objectives, both short-term and long-term.

As more jurisdictions continue to introduce new requirements as to transparency and reporting, we expect that our client base will continue to restructure their affairs to ensure cross-border compliance with these requirements. CHW attorneys are continuously adapting to new industry developments, regulatory changes and best practices to ensure that our clients receive the best possible legal advice.

In three years time, we expect to see our firm continue to expand its current sophisticated client base and to continue to thrive as a competitive firm in Bermuda.