Solicitors governing body: Cayman Law Society
Financial regulator: The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
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.
Appleby is a premier offshore firm with offices across the Caribbean, Asia, offshore locations in Europe and exotic locations such as the Seychelles.
The firm demonstrated its corporate Cayman Islands expertise during the research period with several large banking and M&A deals.
One highlight deal was client SoftBank’s sale of $10 billion worth of shares in Alibaba.
Appleby also justified its reputation in the CLO space, advising on issuances such as the $409 million Ares XLII.
The firm added senior associate Peter Colegate to its corporate practice and associate Sarita Ebbin to its investment funds practice during the research period.
Some key clients were helicopter company CHC Group, Goldman Sachs and Lloyds Bank.
“Always responsive, and always with informative, pragmatic and professional advice.” – Investment funds
Campbells has established its brand in the BVI based on restructuring and funds work across several industries.
One highlight deal was the $150 million restructuring of green energy company Tantech Holdings.
Campbells moved up into the third tier for financial and corporate and the fourth tier for investment funds.
Many of Campbells’ most important clients remain confidential; however, one that can be shared is Connecticut Innovations.
Carey Olsen has had another strong year in the Caymans. Although the firm’s funds deals remain confidential, they worked on a wide range of sizeable fund formation transactions this past year, with clients from an array of jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, the financial and corporate team was active on multiple capital markets and banking deals in the technology space, including the provision of a $131 million loan facility to Singaporean company AI Learning.
The firm added associate investment funds associate Alastair King from Ashurst, and transferred investment funds associate Lauren Fletcher from the Carey Olsen Jersey office.
One of Carey Olsen’s key clients is Samsung SRA Asset Management.
Conyers showed its strength in the investment funds category with its work on several high-profile M&A and acquisition finance deals in the aviation, insurance and energy sectors during the research period.
One headline deal the firm was involved in was EIG Global Partners’ $1 billion acquisition of a stake in exploration and production company Chrysaor Holding.
Conyers also maintained an active presence in the funds space, but all of its most notable details currently remain confidential.
The firm added investment funds counsel Maree Martin to its team during the research period, he transferred from Conyers’ Singapore office.
Some of the firm’s key clients include ING and the Stonegate Pub Company.
“Very impressed with the quality, speed and reliability of advice. Very easy to work with.” – Investment funds
“Very good, client-focused and commercially driven. Attorneys there have always been very responsive.” – M&A
“Excellent in all regards.”
“Very high calibre lawyer who is commercially focused, practical, communicative and efficient.”
Known for its Cayman Islands investment funds practice, Ireland-based firm Dillon Eustace advised on the formation on a number of interesting and notable funds.
Unsurprisingly, many of the funds that Dillon worked on had Irish components, but the firm also worked on cross-border deals that included US, UK and Canadian actors, among others.
Key clients include Crossroads Capital Management and FundingNomad SPC.
A leading firm across various offshore jurisdictions, the firm’s corporate practice was especially active during the research period advising lenders on acquisition finance deals, such as the $950 million acquisition of Apple Leisure Group by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and KSL Capital.
The firm has grown its practice during the research period, adding investment funds and corporate partner Patrick Colegrave, investment funds and corporate senior associate Jonathan McLean and investment funds and corporate associate Catharina von Fickenhagen.
Several notable banks are key clients for Harneys including Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.
“Provide expert specialist advice in fund finance, responsive and commercially driven.” – Investment funds
“Harney's are commercial, responsive and thorough. Their work for us on numerous matters has been consistently excellent.” – Derivatives, regulatory
“Ellie is responsive and commercial, as well as being technically very strong. She is a pleasure to work with.”
“Paul is very responsive and hands on, and one of the most commercial offshore lawyers in the market.”
“Very experienced fund finance lawyer, commercially driven, always responsive and solution-focussed.”
One of the elite firms in the Caymans, Maples and Calder justified its tier one financial and corporate ranking with a series of high-level deals in the M&A and structured finance spaces. Among the highlights was Aergen’s $324.7 million ABS issue.
Like the above deal by Aergen, many of the transactions that the corporate team worked on were either focused on the aviation or technology sectors.
Of course, no Caymans firm can be considered elite without a leading funds practice, and Maples spent this past year proving they have just that. From the many impressive funds the firm was involved with, one that still stands out was the formation of the $15.8 billion Global Infrastructure Partners III fund.
To make up for the loss of investment funds associate Bryony Robottom, Maples hired investment funds associates Stef Dimitriou and Benjamin Hunt.
Some of Maples’ most significant clients included Kingdom Holding, Leonard Green & Partners and Thoma Bravo.
“Maples consistently provides high quality work on a very timely basis. They are extremely knowledgeable in the subject matters for which we require their services and always able to find solutions to difficult problems when needed.” – Investment funds
“Outstanding, both in quality as well as in accessibility.” – M&A, private equity
“Extremely responsive, intelligent and creative. The lawyers at Maples and Calder can always be counted upon to provide commercial and reasonable solutions to issues that arise. They are trusted, go-to counsel in the Cayman Islands.” – Investment funds
“Excellent, very knowledgeable, precise, clear and helpful in finding solutions when needed.”
“Nick is a pleasure to work with. He is very responsive and knowledgeable about Cayman law, investment company subject matter, and current status of GP/LP issues.”
“In light of Jonny's in-depth understanding of our client structures and subject areas, not to mention the superior quality of his services, we would never consider different counsel.”
Mourant Ozannes had another active year and although most of the information on the firm’s funds deals can’t be disclosed, it can be said that the firm handled funds work for notable clients across the world.
Meanwhile, the financial and corporate practice was involved in several capital markets and financing transactions in connection with the real estate sector.
The firm also demonstrated its structured finance expertise by advising on a $367 million CLO issuance by Greystone.
Mourant lost senior associates Nicholas Gonzalez and Thomas Berry, but also added senior associate Jennifer Crooke and associate Gemma Cowan. Both lawyers work in the corporate and funds areas.
“Very good and professional, Mourant is one of the top firms in Jersey and has brought their great level of service to the Cayman Islands. In the area of investment fund formation and financing of investments where we worked with Mourant, the firm provides great industry knowledge and depth of expertise in a wide variety of transactions.” – Investment funds
“Neal is great to work with, very responsive, with an immense depth of knowledge and expertise in a wide area of industries. He is always personally involved, making sure that the firm’s service is of a high standard.”
Ogier’s funds group worked with a number of high-profile clients in relation to fund formation matters, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The corporate group was especially active with regards to restructuring transactions, including a $300 exit credit facility provided for CHC Group in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Some of Ogier’s most important clients included Biffa, HSBC Bank and Mid Europa Partners.
“Always very impressed - client-focussed, pragmatic and extremely helpful.” – Investment funds
“Excellent - manages team and transaction well.”
Especially active in the real estate and insurance sectors this past year, Solomon Harris ranks in the fourth tiers for financial and corporate and investment funds.
One highlight deal from a different industry was work on Ironshore Pharmaceuticals’ $200 million financing.
The investments funds practice worked on an array of confidential deals with clients from a diverse mix of jurisdictions.
Solomon Harris added associate Robert Humphries to its investment funds team during the research period.
“Extensive knowledge of the funds area in Cayman.” – Investment funds
“Very responsive team and competitive pricing. Innovative approach to common problems.” – Banking and finance
“Richard is an excellent attorney – responsive, cost-sensitive and practical. Richard thoroughly understands not only the Cayman aspects of fund formation, but is also able to see the on-shore ‘big picture’ elements which is unique among off-shore lawyers. Put simply, Richard makes us look good in front of the client, which is all you can ask for.”
“Considerable attention to detail, efficient and responsive, and offers solutions to problems arising. Meets deadlines.”
Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries handled corporate deals in a number of sectors, and its funds team fielded clients from around the world. Many of Stuart Walker’s most significant deals remain confidential.
Key clients include Romulus Entertainment and Tricadia Capital Management.
“They are an excellent value. High level work and a lower price than the big Cayman firms. Their responsiveness is excellent. New York level responses.” – Investment funds
“Fast, effective and pragmatic advice. Available at short notice and able to provide succinct legal advice.” – M&A
“Amazing responsiveness and understands the market in funds.”
“Very attentive to detail, timely responses.”
“Aaron was responsive and able to provide fast and effective advice. Has a solid commercial approach and direct communication manner.”
“Aaron has been an excellent resource in liquidating Cayman entities. He is highly responsive and clear in answering all questions that we may have.”
One of the first firms that comes to mind in connection with the Caymans, Walkers continued to show why it’s esteemed an elite offshore practice with first-tier rankings in the financial and corporate and investment funds categories.
In addition to several massive acquisition finance deals, the corporate team was busy with a variety of structured finance transactions, including a $640 million aircraft securitisation by the Apollo Aviation Group.
From what can be shared in relation to Walkers’ funds practice, one highlight was the firm’s involvement on First Reserve’s $3.7 billion infrastructure fund disposal to BlackRock.
Continuing its growth, Walkers added corporate associate Ed Rhind and funds associates Chris Brett-Young and Daryl O'Brien.
Some of Walkers’ key clients were Liberty Media, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Shelf Drilling.
“An excellent firm, clearly subject matter experts, practical and timely, reliable. A go-to firm for Cayman fund work. Staff project appropriately and efficiently.”- Investment funds
“A terrific lawyer.”