When taking stock of the markets over the last 12 months, it is safe to argue that tougher times must inevitably be afoot. While upheavals wrought by the pandemic may have largely receded into the rearview mirror, the volatility that has come to characterise recent times shows no sign of abating, with the Ukraine war leading to energy insecurity and the cost of living crisis, the need to navigate ever-changing Russian sanctions, as well as the looming threat of a global recession.
However, even in this tumultuous environment, offshore law firms continue to defy the odds, with 2022 only building on the growth seen by many in previous years. ‘Despite expecting a challenging economic environment, income has been up across service lines and sectors, without exception,’ states Edward Mackereth, global managing partner at Ogier, echoing the sentiment of many offshore law firm leaders. Continue reading “Offshore report: Tempering against the tempest”
While 2022 began with renewed hope as the world began to bounce back after two unprecedented years of upheaval, it took just a few short weeks for that bubble to burst, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shaking the markets and raising the spectre of a global recession.
However, law firms throughout the Cayman Islands (Cayman), the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Bermuda have risen to the challenge, enjoying a year of growth and landmark transactions. Continue reading “Caribbean Offshore Report: Light behind the cloud”
In our 2022 offshore feature, firm leaders were relatively sanguine when scanning the horizon for the upcoming year’s challenges. Having ridden out almost two years of Covid-19 lockdowns, global economies – with the notable exception of China – had largely reopened, including the Crown Dependencies themselves, which had ended travel restrictions at the same time as their key clients in London.
Then, almost to the day, as readers removed the cellophane from their copies of the January/February 2022 issue of Legal Business, Russia invaded Ukraine – and the world’s economic prospects changed immeasurably. However, as material as these challenges undoubtedly are, they have yet to fully arrive on the desks of the lawyers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Continue reading “UK Offshore Report: Weatherproof”
If market commentators thought the world was ready to get back on an even keel after two years of global pandemic, events of recent months have very much put paid to that notion. But while law firms and their clients still have much volatility to contend with, the 2022 financial results season has once again underlined the resilience of the global legal market, with a steady stream of firms posting more than healthy revenue and profit hikes.
And the leading offshore law firms are no exception, with booming deal markets, post-pandemic restructuring work and emerging trends such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) contributing to a landmark year for many. Continue reading “Ports in a storm – the offshore leaders thriving in turbulent times”
In our 2021 offshore report, law firm pundits placed their bets on the market drivers they predicted would define the coming year. Notwithstanding some unsurprising volatility, the outlook has proved far brighter than many had dared to hope.
‘There was a sense that revenues were going to drop last year, the courts were going to close and strategic decisions would go on hold’, says Jason Romer, group managing partner of Collas Crill, ‘but that never happened. Revenues have continued to increase, the costs are down and we continue to get busier.’ Continue reading “UK Offshore report: Keeping a weather eye”
Driven by different dynamics, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Bermuda have each experienced their own problems in the Covid era – much like the rest of the world – but collectively and individually these sophisticated legal jurisdictions have continued to fare well. Driven by experienced and talented lawyers, strong commercial nous and a well-honed judicial system, the leading global players in the Caribbean can take whatever is thrown at them.
As all jurisdictions were forced to adapt quickly to the coronavirus pandemic, the Caribbean was no exception, with working from home and reduced contact due to social distancing swiftly becoming the norm. The climate has not been without its challenges as multiple lockdowns forced local businesses to suffer and caused substantial disruption to many in the hospitality sector. Indeed, the region’s once-thriving tourism industry continues to stall as travel levels remain low compared to pre-pandemic times – an inevitable blow for Bermuda, the BVI and Cayman – given their significant reliance on international cash injections into the local economy. Continue reading “Caribbean Offshore Report: The vital signs”
In what will undoubtedly be remembered as an unpredictable year in more ways than one, offshore firms across the globe leveraged their resilience and diverse practice offerings to weather the storm that 2020 brought. The US-China trade wars and the uncertainty around the EU/UK divorce gave way to the devastation of the global coronavirus pandemic, plummeting oil prices and markets in freefall, and the final throes of Brexit negotiations.
However, the offshore legal sector seemingly managed to duck every blow and avoid every collapse, with 2020 and early 2021 proving to be highly successful years across the offshore market. For Edward Mackereth, global managing partner of Ogier, ‘unprecedented was the word of 2020’, while Christian Luthi, chair of Conyers, states: ‘2020/21 has certainly tested the adaptability of the firm, and Conyers has come through extremely well’. Jonathan Green, global managing partner of Maples, adds: ‘2020 and early 2021 have been very active periods for us, setting new high-water marks in many of our practice areas. Our global teams have delivered without missing a beat, pandemic notwithstanding.’ Continue reading “Shoring up – the Offshore report”
‘Anyone who says they’re not struggling would be lying,’ says Tim Pearce, global managing partner of Bedell Cristin, referring to the Jersey market. ‘Every sector of the economy and every business has struggled or suffered as a result of Covid, though businesses have struggled in different ways. Some financially, others socially. Others are struggling in terms of pure management. But for us, and indeed for the offshore industry as a whole, we’ve weathered the storm OK so far.’
Pearce’s cautiously optimistic outlook reverberates throughout the discussions with partners across the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands archipelago and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea to the north – the jurisdictions collectively known as the Crown Dependencies. Unlike the UK, domestic property is booming, buoyed by numerous factors. ‘In times of crisis, people invest in what they know,’ says Pearce. ‘People are looking for safe havens right now and property in all of our offshore jurisdictions is benefiting from that.’ Continue reading “UK offshore report: Staying afloat”
The Caribbean’s offshore financial centres have faced their fair share of challenges in recent years thanks to the increased international scrutiny of the tax haven environments, the impact of falling oil prices and the business interruption caused by the seemingly endless cycle of hurricanes, which sees the region bear the brunt of the ever-pervasive impact of climate change. Add to that a global pandemic, and there’s certainly the potential for a substantial economic disaster.
While the Covid-19 infection numbers for the Caribbean as a whole have remained low thanks to quick action by the local governments to close borders, enact temporary lockdowns and implement testing and contact tracing methods, the primary impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Caribbean is undoubtedly on tourism. For Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands (Cayman), the tourism industry contributes 28%, 52% and 70% of the average GDP respectively and figures suggest that, at worst, 2020 could see a 71% reduction in the number of international visitors. Continue reading “Caribbean offshore report: End of the storm?”
On paper at least, history will show that 2019 was a very good year. Encouraged by sustained low interest rates, declining trade policy uncertainty and diminished fears of an economic slowdown, US stock markets led the way: the S&P 500 ended the year up 28% and the Nasdaq 35%. Meanwhile, the Europe-wide STOXX 600 increased by 23% and the FTSE 100 by a more modest 12%.
But on the ground, things seemed a little different for many offshore law firms. ‘Even by recent standards, 2019 was an extraordinary year in geopolitical and macro-economic terms: US-China trade wars, Brexit uncertainty, volatility in the US dollar/GBP exchange rate, tension in Hong Kong and the growing risk of a global economic downturn,’ says Jonathan Rigby, global managing partner of Mourant. Continue reading “Global offshore – Stick or twist for the sector’s leaders”