ISOLAS LLP & Fiduciary Group would like to join the people of Gibraltar in congratulating His Majesty King Charles III on the event of his coronation
ISOLAS LLP welcomes Justin Rodriguez to its legal team as a Senior Associate.
Justin was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales in November 2013. He subsequently joined a local law firm in January 2014 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar as a barrister on 5 March 2014.
Justin began his practice primarily as a criminal and general civil litigator, where he appeared frequently before Gibraltar’s Magistrates’ Court, Supreme Court, Mental Health Review Tribunal and statutory bodies. As his practice grew, Justin honed and specialised his skill set and became the lead family law practitioner at his previous firm, developing a reputation as one of the principal family lawyers in the jurisdiction. Delivering the Family Law module at the University of Gibraltar, as part of their Professional Certificate of Competence in Gibraltar Law, between 2020 and 2023.
Justin currently assists Partner The Hon Neil F Costa in the practice areas of human rights law and public law, namely constitutional and administrative cases, and employment law.
ISOLAS CEO, Marcus Killick said, “It’s a pleasure to welcome Justin to the firm. His appointment reflects the growth of our team and our commitment to delivering the highest level of client service.”
INSURANCE COMPANY TRANSITIONS FROM ADMINISTRATION TO LIQUIDATION, IN GIBRALTAR FIRST
On Monday 13th March 2023 the Supreme Court of Gibraltar discharged the Administration Order over Prometheus Insurance Company Limited and placed it into liquidation. The application was brought by the Administrator Freddie White of Grant Thornton Gibraltar, (who was appointed as liquidator), represented by ISOLAS LLP Partner James Montado. This represents the first instance in which an insolvent insurance company has transitioned from administration into liquidation.
The Judgment is particularly important as the Court approved directions as to the treatment of insurance creditors upon the transition to liquidation and the crediting of amounts paid to them during the preceding administration.
Under the Insolvency Act 2011, ‘quantification’ of claims is to take effect in the case of a liquidation preceded by an administration as at the date of the administration order. However, it was unclear if by quantifying a claim at the commencement of the administration, payments made during the administration would be carried over and credited in the liquidation. If this were not the case, it would clearly give rise to a disparity between creditors within the same class (against the statutory principles) as those insurance creditors who had their claims admitted during the administration as they would be entitled to a greater share of the assets than those whose claims were only admitted in the liquidation.
The position advanced on behalf of the liquidator (and ultimately accepted by the court) was that assets received during the administration should be treated as part of the distribution of assets declared during the liquidation and credits applied accordingly until the amounts of the distribution declared in the liquidation exceed the amount paid in the administration.
In reaching its conclusion the Court acknowledged that the liquidator’s proposed directions were consistent with the statutory regime. This was also the fairest way to deal with insurance creditors as it would be unjust if insurance claims which had been admitted during the course of the administration were to receive a greater return than those admitted later on in the liquidation.
ISOLAS LLP Partner James Montado is recognised as one of the ‘go to’ lawyers for insolvency and bankruptcy matters. James has been involved in the majority of insurance company insolvencies in Gibraltar in various capacities whether acting for the liquidator/ administrator or advising directors, creditors, and foreign compensation schemes. He also advises on matters prior to the onset of insolvency including advising directors on their duties, responsibilities, and potential liability as well as reviewable transactions.
ISOLAS Partner Jonathan’s Garcia’s latest article “Focusing on Fintech”
2022 was certainly an eventful year for the fintech sector, including for specialist funds. Globally, jurisdictions, including Gibraltar, have felt a shift within the sector – in large part caused by the shockwaves from the FTX collapse. The past year has set the tone for 2023 and forced jurisdictions worldwide to plan long-term solutions to maintain customer trust. It is a dynamic space that can certainly be difficult to keep up with.
Despite the external challenges, Gibraltar will stay focused on developing funds dealing in digital assets. It is committed to supporting the continued growth of fintech in the economy and sees it as the strong pillar for economic growth. It is one of the world’s most welcoming jurisdictions for fintech businesses and attracts world-leading companies. In line with what came about in 2022, it will be important for Gibraltar to keep up the high standards it has always had in the fintech space and being flexible with the way the space adapts is a huge part of this.
Regulators and other bodies in Gibraltar should work hard to maintain the jurisdiction’s strong position in the league table for crypto funds. Last year, the fourth annual research report into the global crypto hedge fund industry, from PwC and Elwood Asset Management, saw Gibraltar maintain its place as the third most popular domicile globally. Gibraltar ranks behind only the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, and ahead of financial services behemoth, the United States, in attracting crypto funds to domicile.
The current environment can be troublesome for any jurisdiction to navigate. The challenges in Gibraltar are not unique and can be seen in any other mature jurisdiction, but different jurisdictions approach issues in varying ways. The issues we see now in the digital asset space are common all over the world and jurisdictions must learn from each other in how to work through these.
Gibraltar has always approached the digital assets space with a forward-thinking agenda to keep up with the ever-changing space. To rebuild consumer trust and encourage inbound investment into fintech funds, it is essential that the robustness of regulations is maintained while ensuring they continue to adapt to new technology. Consumer trust can be the number one factor in determining the success of a fund. When consumers lose trust, investments can be pulled from a vehicle, putting it under strain. In recent years the sector has seen this in numerous asset classes, including property – and crypto is no different. With strong regulation, the industry will attract more interest, boosting liquidity and with it, consumer trust.
It is right that financial services are among the most heavily regulated sectors in the world. Since first exploding in 2010, regulation in Fintech has been the number one concern for policymakers globally. It has always been a focal point for Gibraltar, looking to build its reputation as a financial services hub by capitalising on new opportunities. This was proven in 2018 when Gibraltar became the first jurisdiction in the world to provide a purpose-built regulatory framework for businesses that use blockchain or distributed ledger technology.
Gibraltar is an attractive choice for fintech entrepreneurs and there are currently over 60 fintech start-ups in Gibraltar. The jurisdiction is increasingly being chosen by clients wishing to get regulated, in addition to the jurisdiction in which they were previously regulated. It is strategically placed to serve as a cornerstone jurisdiction for entities exploring regulatory approvals in different territories – a trend continuing to build for digital asset businesses. The jurisdictions ‘right touch, not light touch’ regime, coupled with the 10 core principles, including corporate governance requirements, segregation of client assets and more recently setting the standards for market integrity, makes The Rock a robust and dynamic regulatory choice.
Gibraltar has always been a leader in the fintech space and continues to prove itself even in uncertain times. 2023 serves as an opportunity for Gibraltar to step up to the mark once again and prove itself as a vital jurisdiction in fintech’s global development as the industry continues to mature and increase the number of established investment vehicles such as funds.
ISOLAS Partner Jonathan Garcia’s Interesting article on Regulating DeFi
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is becoming a significant component of the financial services ecosystem. Despite the challenges, DeFi users have gone from 4.7 million at the start of 2022 to more than 6.5 million today. The number of unique DeFi users has increased by nearly 700% over a two-year period, with just 940,000 users at the start of 2021 (https://www.nansen.ai/guides/defi-statistics-in-2022). As a result, the software has had to evolve and progress with the increasing number of users. As the software becomes even more advanced, it raises some interesting questions for regulators.
There is a fine line between software just being software and it becoming a regulated activity. Events in 2022 have proven the urgent need for regulation and accountability, but how do you hold software accountable when there isn’t an obvious controlling party?
The sanction of Virtual Currency Mixer Tornado Cash in August 2022 is an interesting example of when the controlling party was in fact blamed. The action marked the first time the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has targeted an on-chain decentralized protocol. In an unprecedented move, US authorities named and blamed the protocol itself. The situation showed the world that in some cases, the software can be judged to be at fault. With DeFi use on the rise, is this outcome something we can expect more of in the future?
The crash of FTX brought the need to scrutinise the new and emerging generation of technology-enabled financial services under a finer lens. As a result, regulators in numerous jurisdictions are investigating the regulation of DeFi, however, this requires a complete mindset shift and changing the concept of DeFi altogether. By its nature, the decentralised nature of DeFi and the absence of any administrative intermediary means that determining the entity responsible for applying Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures, for instance, can be a significant problem. Regulators and developers will need to work closely to preserve the integrity of the DeFi concept, as well as the robustness of the financial system.
For the moment, jurisdictions seem content for the activity to remain classified as software provision and not cross the regulatory perimeter. However, it could become a more attractive choice to protect the space as it continues to evolve. Financial authorities around the world will be looking at potential concepts to incorporate a regulatory framework into the space as it seems this is the direction the space is going.
Gibraltar has always approached the emerging digital financial space with an open perspective, and it will continue to do so to keep up with advances in DeFi. It has always been a central focus point for Gibraltar, and this was proven in 2018 when Gibraltar became the first jurisdiction in the world to provide a purpose-built regulatory framework for businesses that use blockchain or distributed ledger technology.
2022 was somewhat of a wake-up call for the wider DLT space and with the continued growth and development of the sector, I believe it will be a necessity to regulate in the future. To do this, regulators and developers will need to work in harmony. In a DeFi world where the nature of associations is decentralized, the relationship between the regulator and the regulated would need to be altered. In adapting to a new reality, consumers and society will be protected, while ensuring the industry and public can benefit from innovation.
ISOLAS LLP & The Fiduciary Group receive STEP Employer Partnership Programme Accreditation
ISOLAS LLP & The Fiduciary Group have received accreditation from STEP – Advising Families Across Generations and are pleased to announce that we are an Accredited Employer Partner.
What does this mean?
The STEP Employer Partnership Programme is open to all employers of STEP students and members globally. To achieve Employer Partner status, an organisation needs to show how they support their staff in developing their professional knowledge by demonstrating how they meet the STEP standards.
Why have we been recognised?
We strongly believe in investing in our people making learning and development a top priority. As an organisation, we actively support and encourage staff to undertake continuous professional development relevant to their job role and we will provide both financial support and study leave.
At present, we have six employees who are STEP qualified and hold full TEP membership with another four staff members having achieved Affiliate membership. In addition to the above, we also have five employees who are currently in the process of undertaking their STEP qualifications.
As an organisation, we are committed to the learning and development of our people to ensure that they have the professional knowledge and expertise to provide a first-class standard of service to our clients. We are extremely proud of the achievements of our staff, both those who have successfully completed their qualifications and those who are currently working hard to achieve them. We are keen to showcase the investment in our people and celebrate the success of our organisation in supporting them through their studies and beyond.
STEP provides an industry benchmark in terms of training and academia so we’re delighted to have been recognised and accredited with Employer Partner status.
Hayley Xerri MBPsS (Chartered MCIPD) HR Director.
Fiduciary HR Solutions – Should you wish to learn more about our HR solutions, including payroll services, please contact the team at HR@fid.gi or telephone +350 200076651.
ISOLAS LLP CONTRIBUTES TO THE ICLG PRIVATE CLIENT 2023 GUIDE
ISOLAS Partners Adrian Pilcher, Emma Lejeune, and Stuart Dalmedo, have once again contributed to the Private Client 2023 Guide for Gibraltar in the International Comparative Legal Guides (ICLG).
ICLG look to experts across 26 jurisdictions for commentary on common issues in private client laws, covering tax, succession planning and immigration issues.
The Gibraltar chapter answers a number of key questions related to taxation issues and planning in Gibraltar, provides an overview of the implications of residency status on tax liability, and highlights opportunities for Gibraltar residents.
Gibraltar has an attractive tax regime, with no inheritance, capital gains, estate, gift or wealth taxes. The guide also offers further clarity on the various taxable sources of income, and taxation issues on inward investment.
To view the Gibraltar chapter, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/private-client-laws-and-regulations/gibraltar
For further information related to the above, or for advice regarding tax planning within Gibraltar, contact Adrian Pilcher email@example.com, Emma Lejeune firstname.lastname@example.org or Stuart Dalmedo email@example.com
ISOLAS LLP Consultant Dr Jamie Trinidad appointed Kings Counsel
Dr Jamie Trinidad was appointed King’s Counsel on the 2nd February 2023
The first appointment of a KC in Gibraltar since January 1951 when Sergio Pelayo Triay and Albert Isola were appointed.
Albert Isola’s son, the late Peter J Isola and Senior Partner of Isola & Isola, (as the firm was known then), presented Jamie’s petition for his call to the bar in 2005.
The Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel appointed Dr Trinidad congratulating him on his achievement saying, “This appointment is in recognition of his (Jamie’s) highest standards of professional integrity and ability.”
ISOLAS LLP Senior Partner, Peter Isola, praised Jamie’s achievement adding, ”it is wonderful to see that Jamie’s hard work and expertise has been recognised. Jamie is a real asset to both our firm and Gibraltar as whole where he assists the Government on public international law. Congratulations Jamie!”
We met up with Jamie to learn more on his achievement:
1. What is your role at ISOLAS?
I am a Consultant with ISOLAS and work mainly on international, public, administrative and regulatory matters.
2. What attracted you to law?
A: I’ve always been interested in how rules are made and applied. However, the truth is that I was first drawn to law because I couldn’t decide what to study at university, and it seemed like an interesting subject with decent career options after graduation.
3. Your academic research focused on international territorial disputes, self-determination, and human rights. Was this driven by the political scene on the Rock?
A: To begin with, yes. My focus broadened a lot after I began to study these topics at university, but I still enjoy researching and writing about Gibraltar. It is such a fascinating case study in the law of decolonisation, territory and self-determination, and it is one of the territories I discuss in my 2018 book, ‘Self-Determination in Disputed Colonial Territories’.
4. You became a Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge in 2013. Was it always your intention to become an academic?
A: No, I was already in my early 30s when I decided I would apply to study for a PhD in international law while working at ISOLAS. Dividing my time between academic work and legal practice felt like an ideal balance, so towards the end of my PhD I decided to apply for academic positions, and I was thrilled when I was elected as a fellow of Wolfson, the Cambridge college where I had previously been a student. For the last decade I have juggled my research, teaching and pastoral roles at the college and university with my legal practice. It’s hard work, but it’s been more varied and interesting than the days when my entire professional life was spent in an office.
5. You are often called upon by the Gibraltar Government for matters relating to international law, Gibraltar’s constitution and its right to self-determination. How important is this to you?
A: Unlike the work I do for other governments, some of the issues I deal with on behalf of the Gibraltar Government are directly relevant to me and my family, so the work feels important on a personal as well as a professional level. It’s also a privilege to be able to give something back to my community.
6. You are the first new KC to be appointed in Gibraltar since 1951, when Sergio Triay and Albert Isola were appointed. This makes your appointment all the more special. What exactly does it mean to you?
A: It’s a great honour to be recognised for the quality of my work and contribution to the jurisdiction. ‘Silk’ appointments are rare in Gibraltar, so I’m proud of the achievement. It seems that appointments during the reign of a king have been particularly rare. Apart from the two that you mention, I believe the only other KC appointment from the local bar was Arthur Carrara in 1923.
7. What plans do you have for the future?
A: I want to keep working on interesting cases for as long as my clients continue to instruct me, and I have a couple of book projects in the pipeline.
The new era of Digital Assets
2022 will certainly be a memorable year for the digital assets industry. John Ray III, newly appointed FTX CEO and American attorney who specializes in recovering funds from failed corporations, even proclaimed that in his career he’d never seen “such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here.” 2022 has established the upcoming years as a rebuilding stage for the digital asset space and has proven a desperate need for increased regulatory clarity and accountability for bad actors. 2023 is a crucial year for institutions to regain consumer trust and adapt to the new era of digital assets.
The call for regulation has heightened in the last months over the FTX crash and the need to safeguard consumers is more prominent than ever. As institutions reflect on the past year, they will need to consider concrete consumer solutions. Accountability and regulation will need to be the focus for institutions to build back user trust, and it must be sophisticated and robust enough without harming innovation. These institutions will need to provide credible business models and real use cases – hype will no longer be good enough to influence consumers on what and whom they choose to trust.
Because of recent failures, there is huge pressure on regulation. With this pressure, there is the possibility to over-regulate which brings its own dangers and should be closely monitored to ensure balance.
Policymakers around the world will need to reflect on their current regulation standards as the FTX crash has changed the way consumers trust. The government of Gibraltar has always approached the digital assets sector with a progressive attitude and is a leading jurisdiction in the space. In 2018 Gibraltar became the first jurisdiction in the world to provide a purpose-built regulatory framework for businesses that use blockchain or distributed ledger technology, allowing firms to operate in or from the jurisdiction without concerns.
Global regulators and lawmakers could seek to regulate in the style of Gibraltar, with a ‘right touch, not light touch’ regime. The jurisdictions regime, coupled with the 10 core principles, including corporate governance requirements, segregation of client assets and more recently setting the standards for market integrity, makes Gibraltar a robust and dynamic regulatory choice. Gibraltar is committed to serving consumers in the industry and adapting to this new era of digital assets.
As policymakers adjust and improve regulatory standards, the adoption of De-Fi will accelerate. Prominent issues that are currently affecting De-Fi, such as regulatory compliance, scalability and hack/threat vulnerabilities will decrease as the standards in the space change. There is huge potential for De-Fi to be a powerful part of the financial ecosystem, how and when it overcomes harsh issues.
Digital Assets are certainly transforming the world and are becoming more and more notable in the financial ecosystem. 2023 marks a very important year in the digital asset space after the whirlwind in 2022. As the diversity of asset types increases and the number of consumers, regulators will need to be transparent and vigorous in order to keep up with the ever-changing sector.
ISOLAS LLP becomes a certified member of the UN’s Climate Neutral Now Initiative
We interviewed our Partner Sarah Bray at ISOLAS LLP for more information on this achievement:
1. What is your role at ISOLAS?
I’m a Partner in the property department and lead partner on ESG initiatives.
2. Why have you taken on the lead role on ESG, why is it important to you?
Environmental issues and the climate crisis are a global concern. There is little point in doing business and ‘carrying on as usual’, if we run the risk of not having a home, office or planet to work from in the first place.
We have seen just how disruptive the Covid-19 pandemic has been. We have seen how the war in Ukraine can change people’s lives forever- forcing millions to flee their homes and face a precarious future. This should be a lesson to us that everything we have can be lost in an instant. The increase in temperatures, driven by increased human emissions, can lead to flash floods, rising sea levels, drought, and the destruction of animal geographic ranges.
ESG efforts are not scaremongering; they are initiatives to bring people together for a common goal of a brighter future. For businesses, climate action can mean a financial investment, but the message is clear: climate inaction will be vastly more expensive.
3. When did ISOLAS start thinking about ESG and what are the drivers for doing so?
Every employee plays a part in the future of our planet- from the mode of transport chosen to get to work each day, to the number of business trips taken, electricity consumed, food choices, paper usage, stock purchases etc. As a firm, we recognise that our offices and our ways of working have an environmental impact. As a major player in the local community, we need to align our ethics and sustainability practices locally with what we want to see, and what we aspire to, globally.
Every action has a knock-on effect and we needed to start somewhere. Last year, we carried out a large-scale carbon footprint audit with an independent assessor, conducted in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s UNFCCC Climate Neutral Initiative and ISO 14064:2018, in order to assess what our firm’s footprint was per year. The result of this was a catalyst to implement change.
We chose to achieve carbon neutrality with gold-standard global projects that create sustainable development benefits for communities around the world. This means supporting a wide range of initiatives into projects such as:
i. renewable energy projects in India, which not only fund wind power and solar panels but also improve air quality there and help provide jobs in impoverished communities, as the projects require maintenance;
ii. rainforest and wildlife protection projects in South America; and
iii. reforestation initiatives run by the Eden Project in Madagascar.
We followed the 2022 UN Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last year and are following the Roadmap to COP28.
4. Where do you see ISOLAS making the biggest difference?
We are the first law firm in Gibraltar to achieve UN accreditation. We hope other law firms and businesses will follow our initiative.
We started small, some years ago- encouraging increased awareness in respect of single-use items and non-recyclable materials by providing reusable alternatives to staff members and clients. We switched from white paper notepads to recycled paper notepads, introduced sustainable water bottles, switched from ordering water bottles to having a central re-fill water point, updated our pens from plastic to bamboo equivalents and introduced plants and green areas in our offices.
Then we went a little bigger and we reduced the use of air conditioning and set a standard temperature for all offices when in use, put our lighting on sensors as part of our refurbishment, carried out firm-wide local beach clean-ups, sponsored the first Gibraltar Eco Festival and purchased carbon footprint offsets to neutralise our yearly carbon footprint.
We are excited by the variety of ideas we have for the year ahead. The most important thing is to reduce our carbon footprint and not simply offset it. We are taking steps to do this.
5. Why is the UN Climate Initiative important?
We need to take this seriously and the United Nations is a world-renowned organisation. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was determined to make 2023 a “year for action.” Their practical solutions to a raft of pressing problems call on world leaders to step up, to include governments, business, and finance sectors.
The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) secretariat is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change. It has near universal membership (198 parties) and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
6. Possible pitfalls and things to be aware of
As with anything and especially with emerging technologies, there is scope for abuse. There have been investigations into rainforest carbon offsets in the press recently, as there are organisations who claim to be certified as gold-standard and are not. However, when purchasing emission offsets, it is worth doing some research and choosing not only Gold Standard or Verra certified projects, but also ones that are rated by a third-party carbon intelligence platform.
7. What now?
For Isolas LLP to become a certified member of the UN’s Climate Neutral Now Initiative has been a big step in the right direction. We are proud to be the first Gibraltar law firm to be listed on the UN’s climate action register at Our participants | UNFCCC and hope that other law firms and businesses in Gibraltar will follow.