In the interests of protecting the public and ensuring the continuity of business in Bermuda as we respond to the effects of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) circumstances, the Bermuda Registrar of Companies and Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) have issued the following information.
Registrar of Companies
The Registrar, in common with other Government departments, has implemented contingency measures to protect staff and members of the public. All but essential staff will be working remotely, at least until 6 April. Essential services remain available, although there may be some delay to usual processing times.
Electronic filing protocols are now in place at the Registrar of Companies in order to accept filings and payment of associated filing fees, including in respect of new company registrations, official receiver appointments and liquidations, bankruptcy applications, and real estate licences and business applications.
Certificates of compliance requests and company name reservations may also be submitted electronically, as usual.
Searches of public files at the Registrar of Companies have generally been discontinued due to the necessary closure of government offices, although certain records may be provided electronically if necessary.
In relation to the application of economic substance requirements, no formal notices have been issued. However, in line with its overall approach to compliance assessment, the Registrar will take a practical approach in light of all appropriate circumstances. As such, where physical meetings or other similar measures are not possible due to necessary travel or quarantine restrictions, this will be taken into account by the Registrar in its assessment of activities for this financial period. Entities should carefully document any such measures, and otherwise continue to ensure their ongoing compliance with the economic substance requirements in line with the applicable Guidance Notes.
Bermuda Monetary Authority
The BMA has activated its business continuity plan, and has implemented social distancing protocols and remote working options such as telephone and video conferencing for all external meetings.
In relation to regulatory requirements associated with the need to hold Board/committee meetings in Bermuda, the BMA has also acknowledged that physical meetings in Bermuda may not be possible, and has assured regulated entities that they will not seek to enforce such requirements during the first half of 2020. They have reminded entities that meetings should nonetheless continue to be held via audio or video conferencing, to ensure that appropriate management and oversight continues uninterrupted.
For insurance groups, insurers, and insurance intermediaries, they may request a one month extension for their respective annual statutory filing dates, and the usual fee for any such request will be waived.
The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and we will endeavour to keep our clients fully apprised of developments. Carey Olsen has also implemented its own business continuity measures, and we continue to be fully available to meet the needs of our clients. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your relationship partner in Bermuda.
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.