Global Outlook: Disputes | 02 October 2018

For a number of decades, The Bahamas has been one of a number of select jurisdictions utilised by high net worth individuals to manage their wealth. In prior times, terms such as tax evasion, and banking secrecy were, in some cases, attached to such practices. As such, these terms became increasingly stigmatic. More euphemistic terms now prevail, such as wealth planning and banking confidentiality. Regardless of the terms, the basic principle which arises, generally at common law and which is enshrined in our local constitution and banking legislation, is that individuals have a right to privacy in relation to their property and banking affairs. While this right to banking confidentiality was once virtually absolute, leading countless numbers of foreign persons to set up bank accounts, form international business companies and trust instruments in The Bahamas, the world has evolved in ways which now challenge the sustainability of the concept. While there have long been mechanisms to obtain banking information such as: letters of request pursuant to the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act 2000, various injunctive relief obtained by a plaintiff, and Norwich Pharmacal orders; an interesting challenge has evolved in the context of mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) and the incorporation into local law of various multinational treaties and conventions (convention legislation). [Continue Reading]