The British Virgin Islands
has aims to modernise its Trust Regime, which is based on principles drawn from English trust law, but has been updated and advanced since its initial introduction several times. They have already had their second and third readings in the House of Assembly and it is expected that the Bills will come into force shortly.
One of the main areas focused on are the VISTA trusts. VISTA trusts are established under the Virgin Islands Special Trusts Act 2003. Some of the main proposals to the VISTA trusts are summarised below;
- Under these proposals a BVI private trust company would now be able to be the trustee of a VISTA trust.
- The definition of ‘interested person’ is to be expanded
- Shares would now be able to be added to a VISTA trust from other BVI trusts
where one trustee is a designated trustee
- A designated trustee would no longer need to be the only trustee
- Trustees of VISTA trusts have rights as shareholders to certain documents and accounts of the underlying BVI business company
- Trust Deeds will be able to extend the trustees duties in relation to the appointment and removal of directors.
- ‘Appointed enquirers’ will be permitted to be paid and the trustee would have obligations to provide them with information
Some of the other proposed amendments the Trustee Acts are also summarised below;
- Probate cannot be granted to a corporate executor unless such executor falls within the definition of a ‘trust corporation’, the amendments will include definitions of ‘trust corporation’ for these purposes
- Companies other than those with a Class I trust licence capital requirements will be increased from US$6000,000 to US$1,000,000
- The maximum perpetuity period shall be increased from 100 years to a period not exceeding 360 years. This will not apply to purpose trusts to which the perpetuity rule does not apply
- BVI private trust companies will be allowed to be designated trustees of purpose trusts
- Chargeable instruments trust duty and relevant penalties are to increase from US$100 and US$200 to US$200 and US$400.
- Provisions which govern the relationship between trustees and creditors will be extended to cover loans of assets in addition to loans of money
These changes are expected to lead to an increase in the potential use of BVI private trust company’s and are very welcomed.