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Court Ruling Enhances Bahamas' Trusts, Arbitration Standing – Taylor Wessing

Editorial Staff

23 January 2024

The result of a court case pitting Italian billionaire Gabriele Volpi against his son Matteo Volpi over a trust has protected and enhanced the Bahamas’ status as a jurisdiction, law firm would be Gabriele argued that the tribunal’s findings that Gabriele knowingly received trust assets was a serious irregularity giving rise to substantial injustice. They argued this on the basis that the point was not put to Gabriele when he was cross-examined as a witness and so the tribunal were wrong to make that finding.

“The judge found that this was not a serious irregularity and there was no basis for the challenge. The tribunal's treatment of evidence was not a cause for challenge and even if it were there would have been no substantial injustice because there was nothing to suggest that the tribunal would have reached any different conclusion with respect to the issue.

“Importantly, the court determined that under the terms of the Bahamas Arbitration Act, parties could only make a challenge on a wrongly decided point of law only if the parties to the arbitration all consent to this challenge being made.

“Any other challenges to trust arbitration awards made outside of these bases, subject to individual cases, are likely to be treated as out of bounds,” the firm said.

WealthBriefing asked Taylor Wessing how many such cases are heard in the Bahamas.

“Gabriele Volpi attempted a `root and branch’ attack on the Tribunal's partial award. Because this was the first judgement of its kind, the Bahamas Court has set very strict limits on the scope of the appeal against an arbitration award in trusts,” Taylor Wessing said. “Those limited appeals are very similar to any other commercial arbitration. As such, it is a judgement which will assist in the ongoing ability of parties to apply arbitration in a trust deed (depending upon the jurisdiction) and will likely encourage Bahamian trusts to have such a dispute resolution clause within it,” it concluded.