The Bermuda Court of Appeal yesterday handed down its eagerly awaited decision in the appeal against the decision in In the matter of Saad Investments Company Limited [2013] SC (Bda) 28 Com (15 April 2013) in which the Chief Justice reaffirmed Bermuda's common law jurisdiction to assist foreign liquidators in accordance with the principles laid down in Cambridge Gas Transportation Corp v Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Navigator Holdings plc [2006] UKPC 26.  This is an important development for those concerned with the international recognition and enforcement of liquidation proceedings since Bermuda has no statutory framework of international co-operation in the field of insolvency, unlike the UK and the US.

The decision before the Court concerned the ability of foreign appointed liquidators to obtain orders under Bermuda statutory provisions requiring information from auditors in respect of two related Cayman Islands companies.  One of those, Saad Investments Company Limited, was in ancillary liquidation in Bermuda, and the other, Singularis Holdings Ltd, was not and had only tenuous links to Bermuda. The Chief Justice in the first instance decision held that, at the very least, the Court has power to assist foreign liquidators by deploying those remedies generally consistent with those to which a locally appointed liquidator would be entitled. This would be the case even if the legislation itself could not apply to the foreign liquidation and could even extend to providing the remedies available under the local legislation.

The fundamental issue on appeal was whether there is such a power to apply local legislation where it would not otherwise apply to the insolvency proceeding. The Court of Appeal unanimously held that there was not.  Given the tenuous connection between Singularis Holdings Ltd and Bermuda, the Court found no basis for providing statutory assistance to its liquidators (by analogy or otherwise) in circumstances where equivalent assistance could not have been obtained in the liquidator's home jurisdiction.  This would have allowed the common law to override primary legislation and offend the international law principle of comity.

One of the justices, Auld J.A., went further than the rest of the Court to conclude that he would have allowed an appeal against the orders made in the liquidation of Saad Investments Company Limited too; it was not an "overseas company" in respect of which the Bermuda statutory power could apply. In differing with his fellow justices, he held that the auditors were entitled to rely on that ground despite there being no challenge to the making of the ancillary liquidation order. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.