If there was any uncertainty that the Cayman Islands is a top jurisdiction of choice for complex litigation and restructuring matters, two cases in 2017 prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that its Grand Court is not only able to take on the big cases, but it is willing to take a commercial approach to ensure justice is served.

In the matter of Ocean Rig UDW Inc (in provisional liquidation) (unreported, 18 September 2017) the Grand Court sanctioned a USD 3.7 billion scheme of arrangement, despite the objections of a minority creditor. In A Company -v- A Funder (unreported, 23 November 2017) the same court confirmed that commercial funding of litigation is not contrary to public policy, even if the funded party is not impecunious.

In re Ocean Rig UDW Inc

Ocean Rig UDW Inc (in provisional liquidation) (“UDW”), formed part of a group of companies (the group) carrying on business as an offshore ultra-deep water drilling contractor. The group fell into severe financial distress due to the sustained depression in the price of oil. UDW and three other group companies proposed four schemes of arrangement to their creditors seeking to compromise the group’s USD 3.7 billion debts (collectively, the schemes). Under the Cayman Islands Companies Law (2016 Revision), the Grand Court has the power to sanction compromises and arrangements between a company and its creditors which may bind all creditors. The Cayman Islands provisions are substantially similar to the provisions under the United Kingdom’s 2006 Companies Act.

The four group companies proposing schemes were initially incorporated in the Marshall Islands. In 2016, in preparation for the restructuring, UDW registered by way of continuation as an exempted company in the Cayman Islands and the three other companies registered as foreign companies in the Cayman Islands. The four companies also transferred their centre of main interests to the Cayman Islands before the schemes were proposed (and prior to the appointment of joint provisional liquidators). As part of the restructuring, the group also filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York.

This article first appeared in the 2018 Spring edition of CDR.

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