Cayman Islands

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Cayman Law Society

Financial regulator: The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction: 

Financial and corporate, Investment funds

Jurisdiction overview

The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory. The jurisdiction’s legal system incorporates elements of English common law as well as rules and regulations enacted by local legislators.

The Caymans are not only one of the world’s largest banking centres, but the hub of a highly sophisticated legal industry serving banks, funds, and financial institutions. Law firms in the Caymans, like those in other offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda, have partnerships composed mainly of lawyers trained in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the United States. The jurisdiction is considered a highly desirable place for lawyers to live and work.

Cayman-based lawyers work on fund formation, regulatory compliance, and fund-related litigation for the world’s leading asset managers. Many Cayman law firms act as listing agents, helping their clients through the process of becoming listed on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange (CSX). Lawyers at Cayman law firms work on debt and equity capital markets transactions, and they often play a role in cross-border mergers and acquisitions where the acquirer, the target company, or both have Cayman assets.

Law firms in the Cayman Islands range from boutiques with one or two attorneys to large firms with offices in Europe and Asia. Two firms, Maples and Calder and Walkers, eclipse their competitors in terms of size of partnership, variety of practice areas, geographical presence, client base, and market share. Smaller firms, including relative newcomers to the Cayman market such as Carey Olsen and Mourant Ozannes, do their best to capture market share.

There is also considerable diversity in terms of business models. Some players operate purely as law firms, others in conjunction with fiduciary service providers for investment funds.

Yet another differentiator is the propensity of law firms to work with clients and take on new clients through a relationship with an onshore law firm. The smaller firms in some cases are more likely to take instructions directly from funds, including startup funds, without the involvement of an onshore firm.

The jurisdiction has a well-deserved reputation for a relatively laissez-faire approach to business and investing, but the Cayman government has recently tightened licensing requirements and increased fees for some fund administrators.

Financial and corporate
Dillon Eustace

Dillon Eustace has an active investment funds practice. 

All of the firm’s recent deal information was confidential. Broadly speaking the firm advised investment firms on establishing funds, advised an investment firm on growing its capital raising structure and advised a fund administrator on restructuring and compliance matters.

Client feedback

“High-quality work from start to finish.” – Investment funds 

Maples Group

Maples Group is a top tier financial and corporate and a leading fund formation firm. 

The capital markets team was very active this research period. The team primarily advised the issuers and worked bond issues, share offers and structured finance deals in the aviation, utilities and healthcare sectors.  

The firm’s investment funds team advised private equity and investment companies on fundraising, on their acquisitions and on launching new funds.   

In M&A the firm also advised buyers, sellers and merger parties in financial services, oil and gas and pharmaceuticals.   

Recent Deal Data highlights 

·         Carlyle $6.7 billion acquisition of majority stake in Sedgwick

·         LATAM Airlines $600 million 7% bond issue 

·         Transocean $2.7 billion acquisition of Ocean Rig

Client feedback

“Maples has been a very dedicated service provider to us over the years. They have provided quality work in a timely manner and are always willing to assist us with creative solutions to challenging issues.” – Asset finance

“The engagement was particularly challenging given the complexity of the transaction and made more difficult by the required short timeframe and the involvement of parties from a number of jurisdictions and time zones. Led by Matthew Gardner, Maples were able to quickly identify the relevant points, provide potential commercial solutions and negotiate with the various stakeholders for an effective conclusion. Their main strengths were very much knowledge and experience; Matthew in particular was an excellent resource given his thorough in-depth and practical knowledge of the various laws and requirements. His extensive experience in related matters meant that he could drive the engagement in a commercial and successful manner.” – Banking

“Maples continues to provide unparalleled quality advice in highly complex transactions and analyses. I routinely retain them on behalf of large bank clients to analyse under Cayman Islands law complex fund structures, securitization structures, credit and insolvency risk, and the enforceability of derivatives, margin lending, and prime brokerage arrangements, and in particular, all aspects of credit risk that may affect close-out netting and collateral posted in derivatives transactions and margin loans.” – Capital markets: Derivatives

“Great, very thorough review and receptive to client's feedback. Very attentive to deadlines.” – Capital markets: High yield

“Consistently high-quality and pragmatic legal advice. Long tenured lawyers, excellent perspective on industry practices and pragmatic and responsive.” – Investment funds

“Excellent professional work with excellent speedy service.” – Investment funds

“Excellent. Very responsive and they know Cayman law and the general market very well.” – Investment funds

“Having engaged Maples to work on a variety of matters, in several jurisdictions, the standard is always the same: consistently excellent. Maples always delivers on point legal advice whilst appreciating the commercial needs of businesses.” – Investment funds

“High-quality work from high-quality lawyers provided promptly and professionally, with a deep understanding of the market and what is possible, what works and what does not.” – Investment funds

“Maples is our "New York law firm" in the Cayman Islands. They are responsive, client service and issue focused, commercial and super knowledgeable.” – Investment funds

“Maples provides both financial and legal services which can be very helpful for Brazilian clients. With respect to the legal services, the professionals have a lot of expertise on investment funds, not only from a Cayman perspective but worldwide. Their staff speak Portuguese and understand the Brazilian Market very well.” – Investment funds

“Maples provides consistently good advice, taking into account our commercial considerations and is responsive when questions arise that concern Cayman law.” – Investment funds

“Maples provides expert advice at a senior level. A premier firm in its jurisdiction, Maples is intimately familiar with Cayman law, regulation and market practice. Extremely responsive.” – Investment funds

“Outstanding expertise and tremendous client service all at very reasonable rates” – Investment funds

“Really strong firm. Very happy with the service. Great commercial understanding and value-added advice that’s to the point. The work is to a very high standard and billing is reasonable.” – Investment funds

“Responsive. Accurate. Provides access to senior lawyers, and a pleasure to work with.” – Investment funds

“Sound knowledge-based business sense.” – Investment funds

“Excellent. Really top of the line. We could hire anyone and we use them because we are very happy with them.” – Private equity

Alasdair Robertson 

“Alastair is incredibly professional, a great communicator, and he provides prompt feedback or connects you with the other lawyers you might need in the firm to get it. Great knowledge of what works where and why, what clients will buy, what is worth pursuing and what to drop. Good listener and knows what to delegate and where.” 

Andrew Keast 

“Excellent work.” 

Christie Walton 

“I have worked with Christie for more than 10 years. She is professional, extremely knowledgeable, responsive, pragmatic and very good at solving problems.” 

Finn O'Hegarty 

“Finn is really excellent. The best of the team we have dealt with. Very commercial. Very perceptive. Gets things quickly and goes straight to the important points. I can think of very little he needs to do to improve.” 

Grant Dixon 

“Grant is outstanding. Very knowledgeable, incredibly responsive and commercially sensible. Great combination.”  

“Grant is terrific. Really knowledgeable, expert, prompt, responsive and a great pleasure to work with. Very good at coming up with innovative solutions when required. Super lawyer.” 

Jeremy Bomford 

“Jeremy is very accessible and knowledgeable about our business. We've worked together for several years and he is proactive in his approach when Cayman rules and regulations change or are enacted which may affect our business. He's a valued, trusted adviser from my perspective.” 

“Jeremy is excellent. Extremely knowledgeable and responsive, Jeremy is a pleasure to work with. He is also very sensitive to client needs and risk management.” 

Jonathon Meloy 

“Jonny has been the dedicated attorney to our account for the duration of my time at my firm. He is an excellent lawyer and we have always enjoyed working with him.”  

“Jonathon is incredibly knowledgeable and always delivers client-focused solutions to difficult problems.” 

Mariana Alves 

“Mariana is very professional and has a lot of expertise with the Brazilian Market. She is dedicated and committed to the project and client. I trust her a lot.” 

Matthew Gardner 

“Matthew made the complexity simple; his knowledge and experience ensured that the project was managed efficiently and commercially to the satisfactory conclusion of all parties. Matthew clearly cared about the client experience and was driven by our needs. Similar and related projects in other jurisdictions (and with other firms) took a lot longer and cost a lot more money.” 

Michael Richardson 

“Michael has for many years been our first call for Cayman legal expertise. He is a very savvy, commercial, knowledgeable and responsive attorney.  We have called on him many times with difficult issues or very tight deadlines and he has, without fail, always come through with excellence, integrity and grace.” 

Shari McField 

“Great, very attentive to detail and provides useful feedback.” 

Tim Coak 

“Responsive and thorough.” 

Tina Meigh 

“Tina Meigh is a star. She’s always available on the shortest notice to jump on the phone or jot down emails, giving thorough analyses and responses to complex cross-disciplinary structuring issues. Tina has for almost two decades now consistently provided me and other colleagues with top quality advice on global credit risk management matters. She is extremely approachable and a pleasure to work with.” 

“Very responsive and committed.” 

“Knowledgeable, responsive, and a pleasure to work with. No weaknesses.” 

Wanda Ebanks 

“Wanda Ebanks is very professional and knowledgeable. The service provided is excellent. However, the fees are very high.”

Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries

Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries is a strong firm, particularly in the cryptocurrency space. 

The firm was active advising issuers on the offer of cryptographic tokens this research period.  

The investment funds team has advised clients on establishing and launching funds this research period. 

Other recent matters include a buy-side M&A in the hospitality sector and a lender-side finance deal.

Client feedback

“Very responsive and proactive, with a good understanding of the business aspects rather than purely the legal aspects.” - Banking 

“Excellent service and quality of work.” – Capital markets: Debt 

“Prompt and efficient.” – Financial services regulatory 

“They are excellent in all aspects.” – Financial services regulatory 

“Quick at responses and commercial.” – Investment funds 

“Excellent work, efficient with reasonable cost, good communications and no known weaknesses.” – Investment funds 

“Very responsive and insightful.” – Investment funds 

Chris Humphries 

“Very good and very responsive.” 

“Knowledgeable, practical and attentive.” 

“Very responsive, day or night.” 

“Excellent work. Responsive, good team leadership and no known weaknesses.” 

“Very responsive and insightful, good partner access.” 

James Smith 

“Best lawyer that I have used in many years. I deal with at least 10 other firms globally. James is the best.” 

Appleby

Appleby has a strong financial and corporate practice.  

This research period saw the firm advise borrowers and lenders on financings in oil and gas, real estate and aviation.  

The firm is particularly active in the CLO space advising issuers. This research period the firm has also worked on issuer-side mortgage backed securities.  

M&A is active area for the firm and it advises buyers and sellers. The firm works in a range of sectors but recent work includes activity in technology, insurance and ports.  

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•Diamond $501.7 million CLO 

•Golub Capital Partners $442 million CLO 

•Palladium Equity Partners acquisition of Kymera International 

Client feedback:  

“Appleby is quite responsive and always meets the prescribed timeline.” – Banking  

“Fantastic. They knew their stuff and were extremely responsive. Ben Woolf is simply the best lawyer in Cayman.” – Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation  

“They are aware of and advise us on Cayman legal developments seemingly on a real time basis. They are extremely responsive and pro-active, always furthering smooth deal execution.” – Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation 

“The firm is excellent. Bryan Hunter provides excellent, poignant and practical commercial advice. Pamela Edwards is extremely thorough and precise with her drafting. Definitely an up-and-comer.” – Financial services regulatory 

“The Appleby team was excellent and anticipated my every need. They provided top-quality advice and commercial solutions for any issues that arose.” – Investment funds  

“Excellent – very responsive and commercial in providing sensible advice, cost conscious and has nice, solid lawyers who have a good sense of humour!” – Restructuring and insolvency 

Campbells

Campbells is active on financial and corporate and investment funds matters. 

Several recent deals saw the firm advise lenders on providing financing to investment funds.  

Debt restructurings were another active area for the firm this research period. It advised debtors in the financial services, consumer goods and services and mining sectors. 

The investment funds team has been active advising investment firms on establishing funds over the research period.   

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•DST Global VI 

•Nu Holdings $150 million Series E fundraising  

•Private Investment Partners XI 

Client feedback: 

“Very good. Broad range of expertise. Easy to deal with.” – Banking  

“I find Campbells work to be outstanding. Their lawyers are always prompt to respond and are solution-oriented.” – Investment funds 

“Excellent. Timely and responsive. Proactive.” – Investment funds 

“Outstanding. No points of improvement.” – Investment funds 

“Very thorough advice in relation to a very complicated fact pattern.” – Investment funds 

Conyers Dill & Pearman

Conyers Dill & Pearman is a strong financial and corporate and active investment funds firm. 

The firm has recently advised lenders on aviation finance, a financial services company as issuer on an IPO and follow on offer and an aviation company on an asset backed securitisation.  

The firm’s investment funds team has helped investment firms form funds and provided ongoing legal advice to existing funds this research period. 

M&A was a particularly active area for the firm this research period. The firm advised buyers, merger parties and sellers on M&A in insurance, consumer goods and services and technology. 

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•Energizer $2 billion acquisition of Spectrum Brands' battery and lighting business 

•PagSeguro NYSE IPO 

Client feedback

“Overall we were very happy with the work the firm undertook. They were responsive and did the heavy lifting.” – Capital markets: Debt 

“Very competent law firm and easy to deal with.” – Financial and corporate 

“Conyers bring a commercial nous that I don’t see in other firms. In particular Derek Stenson their lead partner engages on a personal level and a professional level to ensure that all relationships with clients and ourselves get the best of him and he leads his team by example. The deep historical experience of the Bermuda team is available to the Cayman team and their connectivity within the reinsurance space is evident.” – Financial services regulatory  

“Great.” – Financial services regulatory 

“Quality of the work was excellent. Responsive, attentive and thorough. Their focus on the insurance sector is growing and is, in my opinion, the strongest in my jurisdiction.” – Financial services regulatory 

“Top-notch firm which is very responsive to client requests.” – Investment funds 

“Very responsive and knowledgeable professionals. High quality work.” – Investment funds 

“The firm was comprehensive, clear and concise in its advice.” – Investment funds 

“Conyers did a terrific job in connection with various complicated restructurings, financings and corporate governance matters. The entire team was very responsive, professional and capable of handling difficult issues in a very short time frame. The company could not have completed its $2 billion Series A financing without Conyers' impeccable work.” – M&A 

“The firm was very responsive, knowledgeable and experienced in the steps necessary to achieve the above. They worked well with the clients US based counsel and drafted all the necessary documents and resolutions. They were a huge asset in what was a complicated process.” – M&A 

“Very response, knowledgeable and pragmatic.” – Restructuring and insolvency 

Harneys

Harneys is very active in the financial services and investment management sectors.  

In banking work the firm advised banks on granting financings to private equity groups recently.  

Capital markets was an active area for the firm this research period, and the firm advised banking and financial services clients on share and bond issues.  

The firm’s investment funds team has been active advising investment firms on launching funds.  

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•Banco do Brasil $750 million 4.75% bond issue 

•Fosun Tourism Group HKSE IPO 

•StoneCo NASDAQ IPO 

Client feedback

“Responsive, commercial and growth focused.” – Investment funds 

“High quality.” – Investment funds 

“My four years of experience with the firm has been absolutely phenomenal. All the attorneys I worked with were extremely professional, easy to communicate with and patient in explaining the matters on hand.” – Investment funds 

“At Calderwood, we deal with all of the leading offshore and onshore law firms that work in the investment funds arena. Without doubt, Matt Taber, Ian Gobin and the team at Harneys manage to balance the personal service and attention of a smaller law firm with the technical excellent and responsiveness of a larger firm. We recommend them regularly to our clients and have a great working relationship with them.” – Investment funds 

“I really like the availability of the partner Marco Martins, as well as the practicality in the solution of problems and speed in delivering the work. I don't see any weakness in their practice.” –M&A 

Higgs & Johnson (ceased trading 2020)

Higgs & Johnson is an active financial and corporate firm, particularly in the real estate sector. 

The firm was active on lender-side real estate financing this research period. 

The firm’s investment funds team recently advised asset management companies and SPCs on registering their funds in the Cayman Islands.  

The firm also saw buy and sell side acquisitions in the real estate, shipping and consumer goods and services sectors.

Client feedback

"The team at H&J is stellar. Their understanding of global law applied to Cayman was bar none but what impressed me the most was their ability to apply legal knowledge to business situations and give real advice and then to take that advice and execute. Very few firms can run the entire spectrum of the gauntlet." - Private equity

Gaela Fitzgibbons

"She provides by the far the best structural knowledge for fund advisory bar none. Her analytical ability to take complex situations and conclude with solutions and a way forward is what every fund needs from legal."  

Mourant Ozannes

Mourant Ozannes is an active firm in acquisition, financing and investment funds work. 

The firm is active in the fund finance space, advising both lenders and funds.  

Over the research period the firm’s investment funds work was generally confidential. Broadly speaking the firm has been active helping investment companies launching and forming new funds.  

The M&A team has primarily advised buyers and has worked on transactions in technology, investment funds and oil and gas.  

The firm hired banking partners Alexandra Woodcock and Ramesh Maharaj over the research period. 

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•Parkland Fuel $1.21 billion acquisition of SOL 

•Premier Gold Mines $68.3 million financing  

Client feedback

“Service levels are very good. Relative value is also very good. Responsiveness is excellent.” - Banking 

“The team was extremely responsive, knowledgeable and thorough.” – Investment funds 

“Proactive, timely service.” – Investment funds 

“Always very responsive, supportive and professional, a pleasure to work with.” – Private equity 

“Mourant is responsive, efficient, cost-effective, friendly and a great law firm. They are my "go to" firm on any matters where I need Cayman Islands legal advice on my matters.” – Private equity 

Ogier

Ogier is a strong investment funds and financial and corporate firm. 

The firm has recently advised lenders on fund finance and issuers on IPOs.

The investment funds team has been active advising investment firms on establishing and launching investment funds.  

The firm has been active in M&A and advised buyers and sellers in the oil and gas and banking sectors. 

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•ARYA Sciences Acquisition Corp NASDAQ IPO  

•Republic Bank acquisition of Cayman National Corporation 

•Transocean $2.7 billion acquisition of Ocean Rig 

Client feedback

“Justin Savage is particularly knowledgeable, pragmatic and responsive.” – Investment funds 

Solomon Harris (merged with Bedell Cristin, July 2019)

Solomon Harris is an active investment funds and transactional firm. 

Over the research period the firm has been helping investment managers establish funds, though all matters were confidential.  

In October 2018, the firm merged with Bedell Cristin, another offshore law firm.

Client feedback

“The work is good.” – Financial services regulatory 

“Solomon Harris provided exceptional service on this matter. Our mutual client was under intense time pressure to launch the fund before its seed investor moved on to other opportunities. Without his project management skills, we would never have met our client's deadline. Richard Addlestone was available at all times, even on holidays, to draft and review the necessary documents so that we could meet our deadline. The quality of his draftsmanship, and his attention to detail, were invaluable to the success of our project. His knowledge of the fund management industry was quite impressive. He helped us navigate some sensitive negotiations with our seed investor over the terms of a side letter. He also negotiated some significant concessions in our contract with the fund administrator. In addition, he introduced us to other excellent service providers who operated with the same high customer service standards.” – Investment funds 

“It offers boutique style with personal treatment.” – Investment funds 

Walkers

Walkers is a leading firm for financial and corporate matters and a strong firm for investment funds work. 

Capital markets was an active area for the firm this research period. Recent maters include an issuer-side securitisation in the aviation sector, an issuer-side CLO and an issuer-side IPO in healthcare.  

Over the research period the firm advised investment management companies on establishing and launching funds.  

The firm was very active in the M&A space this research period advising buyers, sellers and joint venture parties and has seen deals in oil and gas and financial services, among other sectors. The advised investment funds as investors and joint venture parties and advised a company on its acquisition by a private equity firm. 

The firm saw several lateral hires and departures this research period. The investment funds team lost partners Nicholas Pattman and Michael Padarin but hired partner Oliver Bell from Harneys. Banking and finance partners Ramesh Maharaj and Alexandra Woodcock left the firm to join Mourant Ozannes. New hires include banking and finance senior counsel Richard Williams and Sarah Humpleby, who joined the firm from Dentons and Pillsbury Winthrop respectively. Additionally, private capital partner David Pytches joined the firm from Appleby.  

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•Loancore $1.05 billion CLO 

•Parkland Fuel $1.21 billion acquisition of SOL 

•Stealth Biotherapeutics Nasdaq IPO 

Client feedback

“Excellent work, extremely helpful in Cayman and familiar with the structuring issues as well. They understand the commercial deal and see beyond mere local law issues.” – Asset finance 

“The firm is very thorough and high responsive.” - Banking 

“Excellent quality of work. Highly detail oriented. Very responsive and client friendly. Solutions oriented and practical advice.” - Banking 

“Very impressed with Walkers' knowledge of the subject matter, quality of advice given and commercial approach to transactions. In addition they are a very down to earth and approachable team and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.” – Capital markets: Equity 

“Highly recommended, amazing professionals, highly professional and qualified, available 24/7 and extremely resolute.” – Financial and corporate 

“Excellent, thorough and very responsive.” – Financial services regulatory 

“Walkers is great, very diverse and always responding to our needs in a proactive and timely manner. If there is a change in regulation or requirement for our funds, they will let us know well in advance of the phase. They also host periodic seminars to provide global updates.” – Investment funds 

“The responsiveness of Dorothy Scott, our partner contact, is beyond reproach. Advice is excellent balance between exhaustive and practical.” – Investment funds 

“Walkers is great. We work very closely with Caroline Heal and Prasana and various associates and they are knowledgeable, responsive, helpful, reliable, friendly and great to work with.” – Investment funds 

“Tim Ludford-Thomas’ team is timely in responses and provides excellent expert counsel and advice.”- Investment funds 

“I find the firm to be knowledgeable, responsive and willing to take the time to find a workable solution to issues that arise.” – Investment funds 

“The attorneys with whom I work at Walkers are very responsive and provide thoughtful, practical advice.” – Investment funds 

“Excellent firm. Overall knowledge and responsiveness is great.” – Investment funds 

“Excellent.” – Investment funds 

“They were exceedingly strong in relation to document reviews, legal advice, and filing and registration efforts.” – Investment funds 

“Overall Walkers is extremely helpful, responsive and pleasant to work with.” – Investment funds 

“The Walkers attorneys are knowledgeable, responsive and overall very pleasant to work with.” – Investment funds 

“Walkers and in particular Dorothy Scott and Martin Davies are extremely proactive. We have been working with them for so many years with absolutely no issue. They always provide very good advice.” – Private equity 

“The funds and regulatory practices of Walkers Cayman are both very strong. Strong lawyers include Ashley Gunning, Laetitia Bush and Lucy Frew. They are approachable, reachable, patient and easy to understand.” – Private equity