Shân Warnock-Smith QC

+13459265211

Shân Warnock-Smith QC

Queen's Counsel   |  ICT Chambers and 5 Stone Buildings
JURISDICTION

Cayman Islands
England and Wales
British Virgin Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
Barbados
DIFC
Ad hoc admissions in Bermuda and Hong Kong

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Advice and litigation in connection with all aspects of trusts and succession planning vehicles.

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

The Court of Final Appeal’s decision in G and DBS Trustee. It was significant and such a fundamental issue for everyone involved in trusts.

How did you get into private client?

I started life as a private client lawyer (and not much of a litigator, really). It was only as the years went by and international trusts became much more regularly used that I got involved in the international nature of the work. Inevitably, as it was international, part was going to be litigious. I was a private client advisor, and the spin off was litigation. I feel very strongly that this is the way around it should be -proper trust lawyers, rather than general litigators,turning their hand to trust litigation.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Communicate! The most important characteristic of a first-class private client lawyer is the ability to communicate with and relate to lay and professional clients and other advisers.

What is your favourite quote?

"Dignity, always dignity." Singing in the Rain

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Interior design, exercise and jigsaws (it’s the only thing I ever do slowly!).

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Bacaro, in Cayman. A wonderful outdoor area – and my son is captain of the Bacaro football team.

Where have you seen growth in your practice over the last year?

Reorganising trust structures as UHNWIs choose safer places to live, such as Cayman, in light of the pandemic.

What is the main area of growth you predict for the next 12 months?

Even more trustee blessing applications to approve such reorganisations.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be confident in your abilities but never believe your own publicity.


Robin Rathmell

+1 646 327 9424

Robin Rathmell

Partner  |  Kobre & Kim
JURISDICTION

Washington DC
New York
British Virgin Islands
England and Wales

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Asset Protection
Dispute Resolution
Asset holding structures

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Working on high-profile civil and criminal asset forfeiture and related trusts matters, as well as commercial and insolvency litigation around the world, often involving parallel actions brought by both U.S. and non-U.S. government agencies.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Don’t be a lawyer, be a problem-solver.

What is your favourite quote?

"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

What do you think will be the biggest three challenges in your practice for the next 12 months?

1. Travel! It’s essential to meet certain clients face to face – not just if they have sensitive business to discuss, but also to build or maintain a human relationship. We’re not out of the COVID woods yet and Zoom meetings are starting to feel very old.
2. Travel Part 2! I think as the world opens up again people will travel far and wide and “rebound” from their locked-down 2020. Catching our high net worth clients wherever they are seeking sun or snow will be exhausting but necessary.
3. Travel Part 3! The world will open at different paces – concepts such as vaccine passports will affect who can travel where, and the inevitable (and tragic) unequal distribution of vaccines means that high net worth individuals based in non-first world countries may be more constrained than their competitors and may be harder to reach for their lawyers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stop analyzing the client’s problem as a black letter law question. It is a commercial and/or relationship problem that needs to be addressed holistically. Clients want someone that understands this and can explain a solution to them based on the outcome they want to achieve, not on the (undoubtedly brilliant) lawyering that is going to get them there.

What are three top tips for dealing with your clients remotely?

1. Be as available and responsive as possible. Show them that you are still fully engaged. Reply to texts/ emails faster than ever before, even if it’s just to let them know you got their message and are working on it.
2. Video wherever possible. It is nowhere near as good as in person but much better than a conference call or email. Make an effort for your Zoom- if they are joining by video, don’t just dial in. Try not to take calls when driving or otherwise distracted. You wouldn’t be driving during an in-person meeting so don’t do it now.
3. Obviously your health, safety, and legal obligations come first, but if you can travel to see them, do. They really appreciate the effort during these times.


Bhavesh Patel

+1 345 949 0699

Bhavesh Patel

Partner  |  Travers Thorp Alberga
JURISDICTION

Cayman Islands
British Virgin Islands
England and Wales

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Dispute resolution (including contentious trusts and insolvency)
Asset protection and holding structures
Restructuring

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Dealing with the administration of the estate of a wealthy middle eastern UHNW and the interplay between Sharia Law and Cayman Law and how the administration of a Cayman estate can conflict with the process under Sharia Law.

How did you get into private client?

The offshore world, really. I was doing some private client litigation at HSF with Robert Hunter and then moved across to Forbes Hare, who we had instructed on a BVI trusts matter, and that foray into BVI law meant that more and more of my work was private client or for HNWs. The nature of the offshore world is such that at its core, you are doing work for private clients even when you are dealing with corporate entities because they are owned by HNW individuals or families. The more traditional “private client” work has increased during my time with TTA in Cayman because of the nature of our practice and history of the firm.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Listen, learn, be inquisitive and never forget that relationships are the most important part of any business - both internal and external.

What is your favourite quote?

“Worrying is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Golfing, cricket and cooking.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

We are in a bit of a bubble in Cayman and most restaurants are up and running as normal, but once travel resumes then I am looking forward to getting off island and getting some good Chinese food as that’s the one cuisine we really miss here!

What is the main area of growth you predict for the next 12 months?

Contentious Trusts have seen an increase generally over the past year and we predict that will continue – not necessarily with Court applications/ litigation but certainly with enquiries being made of trustees and/ or advisors. We’re expecting an increase in contentious work generally as the world economies recover from COVID-19.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

1. Move to Cayman earlier!
2. Invest in assets as soon as you can
3. Listen to your parents more

What are three top tips for dealing with your clients remotely?

1. Do not presume that remote working means that people are more available and/or willing to do calls outside of normal working hours.
2. Ask if a video or voice call is preferred.
3. Don’t just dive straight into the work conversation – the usual etiquette of polite conversation should still exist on a virtual meeting!


Dawn Goodman

+44 (0)20 7597 6014

Dawn Goodman

Partner  |  Withersworldwide
JURISDICTION

England and Wales
British Virgin Islands

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Dispute resolution
Asset holding structures
Family office

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Acting as a significant fiduciary in a structure similar to a PTC for a UHNW family. There is nothing like the sharp end of being a fiduciary for having a better understanding of the nuanced decisions which trustees and protectors have to make!
I have also become a CEDR accredited mediator and hope to use the skills I have learned (which are very different from being a trust litigator) to help bring about consensual resolutions, particularly between trustees/ family offices and beneficiaries and as between family members. Finally I've also been admitted in Eire.

How did you get into private client?

I started life as a divorce and commercial litigator in Surrey. When I decided to move from there, Withers was advertising for a private client litigator (in the Dark Ages!) I mentioned I had worked on a case regarding a holograph will and taken a tax case up to the House of Lords – this seemed to have impressed them and I got the job! Trust and estates law was not a practice area at the time. A lot of the work was done by clerks in the family law team. I had a blank canvas and had to start from scratch. It took a while to develop and at the beginning it was mostly in Cayman.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Take the opportunity to act for those in as many different capacities and coming from as many jurisdictions as you can. Acting for trustees, protectors, settlors, beneficiaries and heirs gives an insight into their perspective.

What is your favourite quote?

“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilde.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

I don’t have much time but the top one is my family! I also have a very expensive hobby – I love buying old and decrepit buildings and doing them up. We recently renovated a 13th century house in France. I also love music, film, theatre and literature.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Anglo, in Smithfields. It’s a small restaurant and the food is glorious.

Where have you seen growth in your practice over the last year?

Political instability in the West over the past year spurred creating trusts/ restructuring for those who were concerned as to erosion of the rule of law. Complex restructuring to address a wide range of political risk was undertaken for those ( including from the US) who were unable to move themselves but were anxious to find a safe haven- usually onshore- for their assets. This involved taking advantage of investment treaties, carrying out risk analysis at all levels and adapting mechanisms usually used for Latin American or Russia and CIS clients.

What is the main area of growth you predict for the next 12 months?

Undoubtedly political instability, the desire to find as safe an environment as possible with good healthcare, increased taxes in the wake of the pandemic and disaster planning against the possibility of the unthinkable happening in terms of succession will continue the surge in structuring and restructuring. On the other hand inadequate planning or the failure - because of a sudden death - of a succession plan widely supported by a family is likely to give rise to unhappiness and contention. I anticipate that this will not only produce will/ heirship disputes but also trust disputes as everyone tries to come to terms with an unexpected outcome.

Can you identify any new areas you have developed within your practice to further benefit your clients?

With the strains of the pandemic on the justice system alternative forms of dispute resolution are likely to become more crucial in finding a quicker, less expensive and more malleable resolution to a dispute. I'm delighted to have become a CEDR accredited mediator last year and anticipate that, particularly in the fields of trust and succession litigation and trusts in divorce the facilitative and imaginative skills I have learned will be really useful, whether advising a client in a dispute or acting as mediator.


Phillip Kite

+442037523601

Phillip Kite

Managing Partner  |  Harneys
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

England and Wales (not practising)
British Virgin Islands
Anguilla


Lisa Vizia

+44 (0)1481 705349

Lisa Vizia

Director  |  Saffery Champness
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

Guernsey
Cayman Islands
British Virgin Islands

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) since 1997
Institute of Directors (IoD)

I am based in Guernsey so have expertise in Guernsey and Cayman trusts, foundations and companies, however I administer and act as Trustee and Director of trusts and companies from multi-jurisdictions so I have expertise in several other jurisdictions, predominantly in relation to Cayman Law Trusts and Cayman Companies as well as companies in Bermuda, BVI, Bahamas amongst others.
I also predominantly work with Middle Eastern Families in relation to client jurisdictions and also with some Russian Families.

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Working with Family Offices/being trusted adviser
Middle East structures/ Shari’a Law understanding
Non-standard assets and investments

RECOMMENDED SPECIALISMS

Exotic Assets
Multi-National Families

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Acting as Trustee in securing a Blessing from the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands for a Momentous Decision for the distribution of high value and complex trust assets under Shari'a Law to the Settlor's named heirs who formed part of a wider beneficial class of beneficiaries - AA v. BB & Colin Shaw (as amicus curiae). Chief Justice Smellie noted that 'The Trustee has arrived not simply at a rational decision, but one which follows very careful, deliberation and inquiry....an approach which may be described as a "textbook" approach to the issues.'

How did you get into private client?

I have worked in the fiduciary industry in Guernsey since 1986 and been fortunate to work on very large family structures throughout my career

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Work hard. Love what you do with passion and enthusiasm to progress. Take advantage of all development opportunities. I have worked with great people and my advice would be to surround yourself with excellence. Asking for help and learning from mistakes is a strength not a weakness.

What is your favourite quote?

“Treat others how you want to be treated.”

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Horse-riding, sunny holidays, reading and spending time with my family.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Hook in Guernsey, a fabulous sushi restaurant


Shelley White

+1 345 914 4205

Shelley White

Partner  |  Walkers
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

Cayman Islands
British Virgin Islands
England and Wales

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Trusts and Private Client Litigation
Fraud and Asset Recovery
Commercial Disputes

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Successfully running a pro bono case which led to a fundamental change in the Cayman Islands probate legislation. Being involved in the legislative changes and having the law named in memory of the deceased for her family (my clients).

How did you get into private client?

I started my professional life as a barrister at Chancery Commercial Chambers in London, so private client work was always a natural part of my practice.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Be a civilised opponent. If we all do that, then our profession will be the enjoyable vocation that it is supposed to be. The alternative is not acceptable.

What is your favourite quote?

"The harder you work, the luckier you get." Michael Bloomberg.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

I’m the Chairman of the Cayman Islands branch of the International Wine and Food Society and I recently passed my level 2 sommelier qualification. To balance out the food and wine, I am a keen long distance runner and CrossFitter.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Taikun, the Japanese restaurant at the Ritz Carlton hotel.


David Cooney

+41 43 430 02 53

David Cooney

Partner  |  Charles Russell Speechlys
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

England and Wales
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

I have just finished helping a multi-jurisdictional family to set up a new succession structure. Before we could do so we needed to deal with a fairly complicated history tracking back to the early 1960s. This involved a lot of complicated work unwinding a number of structures that had been neglected and badly administered over all those years. It was an interesting reminder of the mess that people can get themselves into if they do not take advice along the way.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

You should get out and start building your international network as early as possible in your career. The clients you will be dealing with are going to have assets in, and connections to, lots of different places. No single lawyer can deal with everything and so there’s going to come a time where your ability to help your clients is dependent on a strong network of people that you trust.

What is your favourite quote?

Coming from the North West of England, I think it would have to be “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.'' John Lennon used it as a lyric in Beautiful Boy, but it was around as a quote for a while before that. It helps me to focus on what’s really important in life.


Henry Mander

+1 345 815 2927

Henry Mander

Partner  |  Harneys
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

England and Wales
Cayman Islands
British Virgin Islands

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

International private planning
Advice set up maintenance complex philanthropic structures
Advice in relation to effective governance for the holding of operational businesses

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Working with Holland and Knight in the US to set up trusts for a UHNWI, which will pass to charity on his death. After his death, we will have to set up a full structure in Cayman with office and staff, with a board to run it for 10 years. Client has chosen to move here for the private wealth services, but top-class philanthropic structure is now here. Spent time stress testing the structure through counsel for open lines of attack to protect it for the settlor’s wishes after his death in foreign courts.

How did you get into private client?

I did economics as an undergraduate and I was considering a career in the City, but I didn’t want to do straight finance. Even before getting into law, I worked at Moore Stephens in private client. As an in- house solicitor in the private team – I was told “if you’re looking for 1. Dealing with people 2. Draft documents 3. Numeracy side of tax, then do private client.” I did my training contract, then the rest was history.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Never judge a book by its cover. You never know when what looks like a really weird or unimportant client inquiry will turn into a massive and very interesting matter. It is always worth spending a few minutes on any inquiry because some gems really come out of nowhere. High Net Worth clients often keep a low profile and just because someone is not smartly dressed or has an odd email address, it does not mean they still can’t be your next billionaire client.

What is your favourite quote?

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.” Groucho Marx.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Very keen swimmer. Running. Jazz enthusiast.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Grand Old House, Cayman.


Brian Lacy

+1 284 852 73 58

Brian Lacy

Partner, Head of BVI Dispute Resolution  |  Ogier
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

British Virgin Islands

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Civil fraud and asset tracing
Contentious probate
Breach of trust

Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

The growth of my global BVI dispute resolution team (with 8 new lawyers since lockdown began). In particular, David Welford joined us as a partner in Jersey in June 2020 specifically to expand our contentious BVI private wealth advice to European based trustees and private client lawyers.

How did you get into private client?

By moving offshore!

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Focus on the solution that is required and then cast your mind far and wide for a route to that solution.

What is your favourite quote?

"It is the mark of a trained mind never to look for greater precision in the treatment of a subject than the nature of that subject permits." Aristotle.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Travel and restaurants. It's not been a great year for either.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

The 10 Cases in Covent Garden, London.