As a common-law jurisdiction, Gibraltar fully recognises the concept of a trust, a legal construct by means of which high net worth individuals and their families can structure their tax and succession plans.
The main trusts legislation in Gibraltar is the Trustee Act 1895, which is largely based on the English Trustee Act 1893, with subsequent amendments incorporating parts of the English Trustee Act 1925 and the English Trustees Investment Act 1961.
The Trustees Act sets out statutory duties and powers of trustees, together with trustees’ powers of investments and the powers of the courts. However, the provisions of the Act usually apply only where the trust instrument is silent and the terms of the trust deed generally take precedence where these conflict with the provisions of the Act.
The English Variation of Trusts Act 1958 has been completely incorporated into Gibraltar law by virtue of the English Law (Application) Act, which specifically incorporates both the common law and rules of equity in force from time to time in England.
By virtue of the Trusts (Recognition) Act of 1989, Gibraltar has incorporated into its law the provisions of the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and their Recognition. Although the convention is principally useful with regard to the recognition of trusts by civil law jurisdictions, its impact can have important consequences in areas such as the proper law of a trust where this is not expressly stated in the trust instrument.
Gibraltar trusts have been used as a structuring vehicle for wealth and tax planning for as long as Gibraltar has operated as a centre for financial services, with families developing tax and succession plans incorporating the wide range of solutions available. These include protected cell companies, funds, Gibraltar foundations and family offices, as well as private trust companies.
Private Trust Companies
The creation of a regime for voluntary registration of Private Trust Companies (‘PTC’) in Gibraltar allowed for PTCs established for the purpose of looking after the affairs of a single, or small group of individuals, to be registered with the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission. Whilst voluntarily notified and under the remit of the GFSC, the barrier to operation for PTCs in a regulatory context is much lower than a standard fiduciary services operator would be required to overcome. This is due to the restrictive nature of the group of individuals a PTC might service. PTCs in Gibraltar are governed by the Private Trust Companies Act 2015 and is therefore a recent development.
Foundations in Gibraltar
Foundations can also be established in Gibraltar under the provisions of the Private Foundations Act 2017. A foundation is an entity with separate legal personality which is able to hold and deal with property in its own name as absolute legal and beneficial owner, for the specific purposes that are detailed in the Foundation Charter. More information can be found on our foundations expertise page.
Asset Protection Trusts (APTs)
Previously provided for in the Bankruptcy Act, the rules governing the establishment of asset protection trusts where a disposition would not be voidable at the instance of or upon the application by any creditor of the settlor, thereby providing a higher degree of creditor protection, have been consolidated into the Insolvency Act 2011.
Section 419A of the Insolvency Act provides for the protection of assets and applies to dispositions made in respect of property if:–
(a) under or by virtue of any disposition made in respect of property the same becomes settled property; and
(b) the settlor is an individual; and
(c) the settlor is not insolvent at the date of the disposition;
(d) the settlor does not become insolvent in consequence thereof; and
(e) the disposition is registered in accordance with the requirements of any regulations.
Gibraltar Purpose Trusts
Disapplying the rule against perpetuities in defined circumstances, this Act allows for the establishment of trusts for non-charitable purposes and sets out the powers and duties of the trustees as well as safeguards for the management and administration of the trust, including the need for a minimum of one licenced trustee and regarding trust records and documentation.
Hassans’ Trusts Expertise
Our Trust Department manages and administers all types of trusts including asset protection trusts, both in the private and commercial arena. The Trust team currently holds on trust assets under management worth in excess of $10 billion.
The services are structured through a number of professional trustees, licensed and regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Gibraltar.
The management and administration of trusts is carried out by a dedicated and expert team at Line Group led by Director Raquel Moss and assisted by Wayne Fortunato, along with a number of valued specialist trust administrators.
For further details of the services that Line Trust Corporation Limited offers, please visit the Line Group website
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