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New law firm could help boost Island IB

Duncan Card believes that his new law firm will be instrumental in attracting foreign investment to the Island.

Bennett Jones (Bermuda) Ltd, which practises in association with the Canadian law firm of the same name, will be led by managing principal Mr Card, a Bermudian who has returned with his family to live on the Island after more than two decades away.

Mr Card, formerly a partner at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto, said the law firm would help to bolster the international business sector, not only through its expertise in a broad swathe of commercial law, but also through its contacts with international investors.

“If we have a client in Bermuda who requires investment capital, I can leverage my partners to find clients who may be interested in investing,” Mr Card told The Royal Gazette.

“We're looking forward to leveraging our global reach to bring investment to Bermuda.”

Bennett Jones boasts some 380 lawyers working out of nine offices around the world. The firm claims expertise in areas ranging from corporate governance best practices and cyber security to information technology procurement and public-private sector partnerships.

Bennett Jones (Bermuda) will start out in offices at 10 Queen Street, Hamilton. Mr Card has hired a secretary and will be looking to hire an associate lawyer.

“We are excited to add the Bermuda office to our platform through our association with Bennett Jones (Bermuda) Ltd,” Bennett Jones chairman and chief executive officer Hugh MacKinnon said.

“Bermuda is of rapidly growing interest to our international clients who wish to operate in, and through, a highly sophisticated commercial and legal environment. Bermuda is the premier jurisdiction for those investments.”

Mr Card wants to see his firm to be first choice on the Island for those seeking to restructure international businesses with an offshore focus. Bennett Jones is one of Canada's top ten commercial law firms, and is the biggest in western Canada, where many major oil and mining companies are based.

He sees Canada as a rich potential source of new business for the Island and his firm. “We have an entire team devoted to utilising the Canada-Bermuda tax information exchange agreement to drive Canadian investment to Bermuda,” he said.

In an article written with Bennett Jones colleagues Claire Kennedy and Wesley Novotny in June last year, Mr Card highlighted the benefits of the TIEA for online businesses.

The article states: “Canadian retailers who sell their goods and services online can now utilise the Canada-Bermuda TIEA to expand their international sales into foreign markets with highly beneficial tax advantages.

“Simply stated, as long as certain ‘foreign affiliate' rules (discussed below) are complied with, active business income accruing

to a wholly owned subsidiary that is resident and carrying on an online retail business in Bermuda, as well as any dividends

that such Bermudian e-tail subsidiary pays to its Canadian parent, will be free of Canadian tax.”

Canadian companies seeking to capitalise would likely create jobs on the Island, since “the Bermuda foreign affiliate of the Canadian

retailer must carry on its business in Bermuda and have its mind, management and control located in Bermuda”, the article explains.

Mr Card will be among of a Bermuda delegation, led by the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), visiting Canada later this year to stage information sessions on the TIEA and to raise awareness of its potential benefits to Canadian businesses.

Bennett Jones also has experts in Islamic finance — an area in which Bermuda has shown interest — and has a Middle East office in Qatar.

Particularly significant for the Island is that Bermuda is the only offshore financial centre where Bennett Jones has an office — meaning that if clients anywhere in the world are looking for an offshore solution, their business has a good chance of coming here.

Mr Card sees opportunities for Bermuda in intellectual property, e-commerce, technology and the capital markets.

Included in his body of work in Bermuda, Mr Card was a director of the former Capital G Bank for 12 years and chaired the Governance Committee.

He was retained by the Cabinet Office to serve as legal counsel to Bermuda's successful America's Cup 2017 Bid Committee. He is also the exclusive Bermuda representative on the Advisory Board of the Association of Caribbean Corporate Counsel, and he was recently appointed to Bermuda's Electronic Commerce Advisory Board.

He is an expert in corporate governance — a subject he teaches at the University of Toronto — outsourcing and public-private partnerships. As revealed in the House of Assembly, he was the lead counsel for Bermuda's Airport redevelopment deal.

Mr Card, who is delighted to be a full-time Bermuda resident once more, is bullish about the Island's economic future, and praised the efforts of the BDA to bring new business to the Island.

The America's Cup, the finals of which Bermuda will host in 2017, would have a more powerful positive impact on the economy than many realised, he added.

The America's Cup brand would resonate with the high-end demographic that Bermuda was trying to attract, he said. Secondly, it would drive economic activity well before the finals, for example through the presence of the teams and who would come to watch them train on the water.

Mr Card, a member of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club as well as the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, added that among the tens of thousands of sailboat racing enthusiasts around the world, hundreds would now be considering a trip to Bermuda.

“There are probably 100 sailing racing clubs in Canada alone,” Mr Card said. “All of them will have members interested in coming here.”

Another benefit would be Bermudians based overseas returning to the Island to enjoy the big event — a phenomenon seen in Trinidad at carnival time, he said. Also Bermuda will probably see a pick-up in superyacht business that could become repeat business in what is a perfect mid-Atlantic stopover.

Conduit for new investment: Duncan Card's new law firm will be associated with Canadian giant Bennett Jones (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

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Published April 14, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm)

New law firm could help boost Island IB

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