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.
Bermuda-headquartered Appleby ranks in the second and fourth tiers for its Caymans’ financial and corporate and investment funds practices, respectively.
The firm has been highly active in the CLO market.
The corporate team worked on a number of large M&A transactions, including Assurant’s acquisition of The Warranty Group. Appleby advised The Warranty Group on its acquisition.
Another highlight came from the firm’s restructuring expertise, with Appleby advising the ad-hoc group of supporting creditors on Ocean Rig’s restructuring.
Some of the firm’s recent key clients were CBAM Partners, CVC Capital Partners, and HPS Investment Partners.
"Excellent client-facing firm. The Appleby team is quick to respond to inquiries and quickly turn documentation around. They are solution-oriented and are excellent in working through legal issues for non-standard transactions." - Structured finance
Campbells ranks in the third tier for both its financial and corporate and investment funds practices.
The firm was kept occupied with multiple joint ventures in the mining sector. Campbells advised Barrick Gold with regards to its joint venture with Goldcorp for the development of the Cerro Casale project in Chile, and also represented Barrick in connection to its joint venture with Shandong Gold Mining. The Barrick-Shandong joint venture is for the development of the Veladero gold mine in Argentina.
In one highlight from the funds group, the team advised H Capital on the formation of H Capital IV. Another standout deal from the funds group was connected to the China Environment Fund V. Campbells advised cleantech venture capital firm Tsing Capital on the formation of the fund.
Saavn Global Holdings, NuBank and GSR Ventures were among Campbells’ other key clients.
"Campbells consistently provide thoughtful advice and solutions. They stay abreast of international regulatory developments and provide excellent client service." - Restructuring
"Campbells is a top tier firm which assists our clients with corporate work relating to funds and holding companies located in the Cayman Islands. All lawyers are well-trained and the team's technical skills are outstanding." - Investment funds, M&A
Carey Olsen ranks in the third tier for both its investment funds and financial and corporate practices.
Carey Olsen’s corporate team handled several significant M&A deals in the technology sector. One of the highlights involved advising Brazilian ridesharing application 99 Taxis on its acquisition by DiDiChuxing. In another technology highlight, Carey Olsen advised SoftBank Vision Fund on its investment in Katerra.
One of the standout transactions for the funds team came from advising Balbec Capital on the formation of InSolve Global Credit Fund III.
Carey Olsen’s corporate team added Adam Bathgate as counsel from Mourant Ozannes and Dylan Wiltermuth as counsel from Appleby.
Equinix and online investment platform BnkToTheFuture were among Carey Olsen’s other important clients from the current research period.
Conyers Dill & Pearman ranks in the second tier for its Caymans financial and corporate team, and in the third tier for its local investment funds group.
One of Conyers’ corporate practice highlights came from its capital markets capabilities: the firm represented Brazil-based PagSeguro Digital on its NYSE IPO.
The corporate team also handled a number of large M&A transactions, with many of them coming from the oil and gas and technology sectors. One of the standout deals from the pharmaceuticals industry saw Conyers advise Crown Biosciences International on its acquisition by JSR.
Meanwhile, one of the funds team’s highlights came from advising repeat client IFM Global Infrastructure Fund with regards to setting up its US Debt Infrastructure Fund.
Conyers’ corporate team added partner Derek Stenson from Walkers.
Some of the firm’s other important clients from the research period were Seadrill and Inotek Pharmaceuticals.
"We have found Conyers' work to be professional, responsive and thoughtful." - Investment funds
"We've used this firm for over a decade to handle a number of issues with our investment funds. The shop is responsive, attentive and always a pleasure to work with." - Investment funds
Headquartered in Ireland, Dillon Eustace has an established, active Caymans’ funds practice.
As is common with offshore funds transactions, much of Dillon Eustace’s representative work remains confidential. The firm’s funds team turned in another strong performance over the course of the research period.
Harneys operates a strong Cayman office, placing in the second tier for both its financial and corporate and investment funds practices.
Harneys’ corporate group advised Banco do Brasil on multiple deals, including Banco do Brasil’s notes offering.
The corporate team was also kept busy advising the lenders on a number of private equity fund group financings.
In a highlight from the funds practice, the team advised Cirera Capital on the launch of a regulated fund. The fund will invest in emerging markets.
Harneys made some notable additions to its corporate group over the past year, hiring partner Nicole Pineda and associate Ana Lazgare from Travers Thorp Alberga.
The funds team also made a new hire, adding senior associate Daniella Skotnicki from Ogier.
Some of Harneys’ other key clients in the Caymans from over the past year were Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and Mirae Asset Group.
The largest firm on the islands – where it is headquartered – Maples & Calder ranks in the first tier for both its financial and corporate and investment funds practices.
Maples & Calder’s corporate group worked on a wide range of deal types, including a number of significant capital markets deals. Among the firm’s capital markets highlights was SPAC Social Capital’s NYSE IPO.
The corporate group also handled a bevy of structured finance transactions, among them Blackstone Mortgage Trust’s commercial real estate (CRE) CLO.
Meanwhile, the funds group was characteristically active, working on headline deals such as the formation of client KKR & Co’s core platform fund.
Maples & Calder’s other key clients included Lima Metro, Apollo Global Management and Strategic Partners.
"Excellent service provided. All professionals are always available to help. One of the best service providers we have." - Project development
"I am consistently impressed with the extremely high quality advice and work product M&C provides. In addition the partners and associates are extremely responsive and very easy to work with." - Investment funds, restructuring
"Maples provides top notch service, on a real-time basis, and always with clear, concise communications and quality work product. We appreciate Maples' willingness to think through and strategize around documentation of non bespoke transactions. Maples' close relationship with MaplesFS is extremely helpful, especially the breadth of services provided as across the two firms. There have a been a number of regulatory and other compliance changes in the Cayman Islands over the past couple of years, and being able to rely on 'one shop' for services required in connection with such changes is invaluable." - Restructuring, regulatory
"Found them to be very knowledgeable about Cayman Island laws and regulations." - Capital markets
“Her work is perfect, we just have reasons to thank.”
“Very strong substantively and extremely responsive. No apparent weaknesses.”
"Extremely knowledgeable and commercial. Very responsive and even proactive. A great help."
“Excellent experience and knowledge.”
"Responsive, knowledgeable, practical, reassuring, quality."
Matthew Gardner & Michael Lockwood
"Michael Lockwood and Matthew Gardner are also excellent."
"From our perspective, he is Maples, as he is the first contact for all of our requests/Cayman Islands legal and compliance needs. He is very smart and well-spoken, providing concise and carefully thought-out advice on a multitude of topics. He thinks outside of the box and makes himself available at essentially all times."
"She is excellent."
Mourant Ozannes’ financial and corporate and investment funds practices are both second tier in the Cayman Islands.
The firm’s was busy with M&A and financing transactions. In one financing highlight, Mourant advised South Korean semiconductor company SK Hynix on the financing for its acquisition of Toshiba’s memory chip unit.
One standout deal for the funds group came from working with Knighthead Capital on the formation of its distressed opportunities fund.
Nathaniel Luker transferred as counsel from Mourant’s BVI office and will contribute to the corporate and funds practices.
Mourant’s other key clients included Al Khalij Commercial Bank, Credit Suisse, and L Catterton Asia.
Ogier is an integral part of the islands’ legal offerings. The firm ranks in the second tier for its investment funds practice and in the third tier for its corporate group.
Ogier’s corporate group handled a high number of capital markets transactions, including client Transocean’s notes offering. The proceeds were used to finance Transocean’s acquisition of Songa Offshore.
The corporate group has also shown itself to be an early leader in the Caymans’ nascent cryptocurrency space, advising clients with regards to multiple token generation events (TGEs).
In a highlight from the funds team, itrepresented Bozano Private Equity Gestão on the formation of a feeder fund for international institutional investors.
Ogier’s funds group hired senior associate Cynthia Anandajayasekeram from Sidley Austin’s New York office and Emma Sutherland as counsel from Maples & Calder.
Virgil Capital, Wellington Management Company and Dream Global REIT were among Ogier’s other key clients from the research period.
"A classy litigation offering combining experienced partners and keen and effective associates."
Solomon Harris ranks in the fourth tier for both its financial and corporate and investment funds practices.
Solomon Harris acted for acquirers and targets on a number of sizeable M&A practices over the course of the past year. The funds team was also very active on large transactions.
The Grand Caymanian and Dart Enterprises were two of Solomon Harris’ most significant clients recently.
Founded by the same William Stuart Walker who founded,Walkers, Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries is a talented firm in its own right. Stuarts places in the fourth tier for both its financial and corporate and investment funds teams.
Stuarts’ corporate team handled some large M&A transactions, including Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas’ sale of its US Private Equity Access Fund Platform to Institutional Capital Network.
On the funds side, Stuarts’ has been quick to move into the cryptocurrency space. The firm represented cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) fund EKT Active Fund on its formation.
Stuarts’ other recent key clients included Aureum Reinsurance, Guggenheim Securities and Dorset Natural Resources & Commodity Investment Fund.
"Boutique firm offering prompt personal service and expertise covering a wide range of areas." - Investment funds, M&A
"They are very thorough, knowledgeable and most importantly very responsive." - Investment funds
"Good understanding of commercial aspects." - Investment funds
A true leader in the Cayman Islands’ legal space, Walkers is one of only two firms withtop tier rankings in bothtables.
A firm with extensive expertise in structured finance transactions, one of the recent highlights for Walkers’ corporate team came in connection with client Bridge Investment Group’s CRE CLO offering. This was Bridge Investment’s first ever CRE CLO issuance.
The corporate group also handled a number of the largest M&A transactions that related to the Caymans. One standout deal was the sale of client Uber Technologies’ Southeast Asian business to rival Grab for a 27.5% stake in Grab.
Walkers’ funds team was highly active over the past year, but the details of many of its deals remain confidential.
Walkers hired Clive Thomas as senior counsel from Floreat Group.
Some of Walkers’ recent important clients included Energizer Holdings, Joyson Safety Systems and the SoftBank Group.
"Responsive, knowledgeable, and a real value-added." - Investment funds
"The funds practice of Walkers is the best I have used over my nine years of practice. They are extremely responsive and proactive about alerting us to regulatory changes and developments and working with us to develop solutions." - Investment funds