Guernsey: New Image Rights Legislation & What It Means For Sports People

Last Updated: 9 August 2012
Article by Grant Howitt

Most Read Contributor in Guernsey, September 2018

Grant Howitt, Trust and Company Director at Intertrust in Guernsey, looks at the Island's proposed new image rights legislation and what it might mean for sports people worldwide.

The commercial appropriation or exploitation of a person's identity and associated images are commercially valuable, particularly for individuals such as actors, musicians and athletes who commercialise their images in association with the promotion of products or services. These days it is not only about talent, it's just as much, or even more, about the brand. Often a career in sport is at its height at a young age, but if the brand can be built and protected, it is possible to capitalise on that talent for years after retirement and even after death. 

The protection of the image of an individual has increased over the years in many jurisdictions, either through case law or through limited inclusion in other Intellectual Property ("IP") laws such as the Copyright Act in The Netherlands. However currently no legislation exists anywhere in the world that is exclusively drafted for the protection of all aspects of someone's image. Seeing this gap, and after years of debate and a successful consultation exercise with lawyers, financial experts and various other advisors, Guernsey is now set to become the first jurisdiction in the world to establish an individual legal code solely for the registration and protection of "Image Rights".

The development of an Image Rights Register in Guernsey will be a world first. The plan is for the legislation to be in place in the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest. The States of Guernsey has been slowly building the legal framework, which essentially required the update of laws based on outdated English legislation, over the past decade. The approach taken was that a correct legislative environment was essential to attract IP-intensive companies to the Island, prioritising business and commercial needs over administrative processes. The resulting package drew from best experiences across the world. Guernsey is now compliant with the TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Treaty, which requires that Treaty members provide for a certain minimum level of protection of IP rights. Guernsey is one of the very few traditional "offshore" jurisdictions to have achieved such status.

To give an example of how broad this law will be: the basis for the protection under this law is a personality, and the definition of such personality covers not only individual human beings, but also groups of individuals, legal entities and even fictional characters of human beings. 

The image rights legislation, once introduced, will allow athletes and sports teams, amongst others, to consider centralising the ownership of their image (and other IP) rights in Guernsey, safe in the knowledge that there is a clear legislative framework. The proposal is that registered (image rights) agents will need to have a place of business in Guernsey to ensure a commitment and contribution to the Island. This would increase the ability of the Guernsey IP Registrar to enforce a Code of Practice and regulations and ensure that only companies who have been deemed fit and proper will be accepted as an image rights agent by the Guernsey IP Office. The island is hopeful that this unique position will offer diversification and growth potential for the local economy, provide a marketing opportunity for the island and a chance to build on the existing IP legislation. 

Image rights payments are normally made through companies owned by the sports star or an appropriate vehicle such as a Trust or Foundation. Payments relate to any off-field earnings including replica shirt sales, promotional work and endorsements. Depending on the residence and domicile status of the sports star, those payments can possibly be exploited more effectively and efficiently by being packaged outside the separate employment contract, and in most cases can significantly reduce the tax burden.

Image rights are increasingly important in negotiations and it is becoming more common for top-flight sports stars, depending on their tax status, to base their image rights company in a low tax jurisdiction such as Guernsey. The company owning the image rights can be used as an accumulation vehicle for retirement, or profits can be taken out of the company in a tax-efficient manner. A well planned offshore structure can also potentially further enhance the tax advantages and provide a long-term estate and succession planning for the sports star and his or her family.

While Guernsey is often perceived as just another offshore tax haven, the island is in fact trying to create the best environment possible for the Island to become a location for centralization and management of intellectual property.

The new image rights law will take its place alongside other IP rights already in place in Guernsey such as trademarks, patents, design rights and copyright. The new law has been drafted in a way to complement these other IP rights and this total package can potentially provide significant benefits. Although the new image rights law will only apply and protect such rights registered in Guernsey, registration will also provide useful collateral evidence in other countries of the intent of the sports star to protect their proprietary image and may well add strength to other IP rights already held in other territories.

For Guernsey to become a headquarter for intellectual property management and convincing companies and individuals to move their IP-related activities to the island, certain conditions would need to be met. Firstly, the procedural and administrative aspects for registration, maintenance and enforcement of image rights and other IP rights must be straightforward and (cost-) efficient. Secondly, Guernsey must become a party to all major international IP treaties, in order for IP-owners to achieve "easy" prosecution and enforceability of intellectual property rights on an international level. Thirdly, the IP management related services must be of high quality. Guernsey is already meeting most of these targets and if not, serious consideration is currently being taken by the appropriate Authorities, including Guernsey's IP Office, to do so. 

There are further considerations to be made by any IP owner considering centralizing the management of his IP rights in Guernsey. For instance: does the transfer of the IP rights to Guernsey and subsequent set-up of an international licensing structure indeed achieve an improvement for the IP-owner in any way? Or does it create an administrative, legal or logistic burden that exceeds the benefits? Does the centralization in Guernsey support or hinder the day-to-day business? How about insolvency of an IP-owning entity in Guernsey: what is the effect on transferability or ownership of the IP?

In conclusion many factors determine whether an IP owner will decide to manage its IP portfolio from within Guernsey (or from any other country, for that matter). But the Island should be lauded for taking a world lead in providing for appropriate legislation in the increasingly important area of image rights protection. And together with the update of its existing IP legislation, Guernsey is taking important steps in creating the appropriate infrastructure for effective IP management.  

Grant Howitt is Trust & Company Director of Intertrust in Guernsey and member of Intertrust's Global Intellectual Property Group. Intertrust is one of the largest corporate services providers in the world, specialized in the incorporation and management of holding, finance and licensing companies for corporate and private clients throughout the world. 

Originally published in Law in Sport, 21 June 2012

For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Collas Crill Guernsey
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Collas Crill Guernsey
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions