The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) is now working remotely. The Registry is working in an entirely digital basis and document submission is through the electronic filing portal Easy Companies Registry and by email for the JFSC.
2. Can searches be conducted?
Company searches may be conducted in the usual manner, through the electronic Companies Register.
3. Certificates of good standing – if and how these are being conducted
Certificates of good standing, whilst available electronically, are not a customary feature in relation to the execution of transactions with Jersey companies.
4. Other searches – how are these being conducted?
Bankruptcy enquiries continue to be serviced by the Viscount’s Department but contingencies are in place should they be unable to respond to enquiries. There is an online list of the bankrupt estates under the Viscount’s administration.
5. Court sessions and position (including filings and hearings)
Jersey’s Royal Court has put in place revised procedures and practice directions for civil and commercial matters which are designed to ensure that the Court can continue to operate effectively and safely through the COVID-19 crisis. The Court is also accelerating certain elements of the Court’s digitisation project to facilitate working during the COVID-19 disruption. The Court has adjourned non-urgent cases to limit the amount of person to person contact with the Court service and has issued revised protocols in relation to filing electronic and hard copy documents with the Court. Procedures have been introduced to permit hearings to take place by video link or by telephone where appropriate and revised practice directions have been issued including guidance in relation to tenancy disputes for commercial and residential property. Further officers have also been sworn in to ensure that the Court can continue to sit should officers be required to isolate.
Revised procedures have also been issued for Magistrates and Family Court matters to ensure that those Courts can continue to administer justice and deal effectively with urgent criminal and family law matters. Like the Royal Court, these procedures include limiting the number of non-urgent matters dealt with and conducting hearings by video link and telephone where appropriate in order to limit contact. All dates for jury trials listed before 30 June 2020 have been vacated to be relisted later in the year.
The Employment and Discrimination Tribunal is continuing to receive and process applications but personal attendance is not permitted at future hearings until further notice.
The Samedi Division of the Royal Court is continuing to sit to deal with property transactions although the Court has changed the time of the Court sitting to minimise person to person contact and is restricting attendance to legal representatives of the parties
6. Any travel restrictions – UPDATED
On 30 March 2020 a stay at home order was issued to all Islanders who were not doing essential work. A phased plan to ease the “lock down” restrictions, including travel restrictions, has been publicised by Government. This is being implemented in stages. On 12 June, Jersey moved to Level 2 of its Safe Exit Framework which further eases restrictions on individuals and businesses. General guidance has been published to help businesses in their preparations for reopening, as well as specific guidance for a number of sectors including food and drink services and hotels. Non-essential businesses (including retail stores) have been permitted to re-open provided that appropriate physical distancing measures are implemented. Detailed guidance has also been published by the States in relation to the safe operation of indoor workplaces.
A testing programme has been approved by Government which will allow Jersey to open its borders to unrestricted travel from 3 July 2020. This will permit airlines and ferry companies to begin operating regular services to and from Jersey. The programme requires travellers arriving in Jersey to follow a strict process involving pre-registration before travel, followed by either swab-testing or self-isolation on arrival.
Following a phased return to school from 8 June for pupils in certain year groups, a return to school for all year groups began from 22 June. Private nurseries and other childcare providers have also been permitted to further increase their operations, subject to compliance with public health guidance.
7. Other Temporary Regulatory Measures
In light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus, the JFSC has capped at GBP55 late filing fees for delayed annual returns. Processing of paper returns is delayed due to the remote working procedures in place, but good standing certificates will be available for companies whose returns have not been processed. The JFSC has asked all regulated businesses to confirm their business continuity measures and has given guidance on business continuity. The JFSC has relaxed some further timing obligations in relation to regulated businesses, to allow additional flexibility. The JFSC has given a three month extension to regulated businesses due to submit their audited financial statements between 31 March and 31 July 2020 so long a request is submitted by the business within ten days after the original deadline. The JFSC has also given a three month extension in relation to certain other regulatory filings; given guidance on ANLA, capital and financial resources, outsourcing, cyber and financial crime and certain notifications. Further details can be found here. The Companies Registry has announced that it will consider applications from public companies to delay the requirement to file audited accounts where it is satisfied that the delay is as a result of the difficulties arising from the pandemic. The JFSC have extended the deadline date for submitting the Jersey Private Funds Annual Compliance Returns. The current deadline date is 31 July and this has been extended to 31 August. The reporting period up to 30 June remains unchanged. The payment date for the JPF annual fee remains unchanged at 1 July. The JFSC have also provided businesses with additional guidance to ensure information is completed fully and accurately found here.
After initially postponing its examination programme for four weeks, the JFSC has published guidance on how it will continue with a programme of remote examinations, on a revised timetable. Further information can be found here.
The Government of Jersey has launched a loan guarantee scheme to provide additional financial support to local businesses facing disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme has also been agreed in coordination with the Governments of Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The scheme will be operated through clearing banks who lend to local businesses in Jersey. On 15 May 2020 the scheme was expanded to allow all local businesses to apply. In addition the Government of Jersey obtained a two year GBP500 million revolving credit facility from a consortium of local banks to provide the Minister for Treasury and Resources the maximum amount of flexibility to allocate expenditure in support of households and the economy during the pandemic and the recovery from it.
Phase 2 Government of Jersey’s Co-Funded Payroll Scheme offers employers and self-employed workers a subsidy of 80% of their wages, up to a cap. The Government of Jersey believe Jersey’s scheme is among the most generous in the world, on a level with that offered by the Government of New Zealand.
Recognizing challenges that may be faced by local businesses in difficult trading conditions, the Viscount, who is the administrator of bankruptcy (désastre) proceedings, has issued a Guidance Note alongside a Practice Statement from the Law Society of Jersey on the application of and issues surrounding liability for wrongful trading, intended to assist directors of a Jersey company to understand the position and what steps they may wish to consider depending on the particular circumstances of their company.
8. Implications for economic substance compliance and residency
Where companies’ operating practices have to be adjusted to compensate for the Corona virus outbreak, the Comptroller will not determine under Article 6, Taxation (Companies- Economic Substance) (Jersey) Law 2019, that a company has failed the economic substance test. Where a company incorporated in another jurisdiction has been tax resident on the basis of control and management in Jersey, and the Comptroller considers that any changes dictated by the Corona Virus are temporary, then this will not disturb the determination of corporate tax residence from that prevailing before this outbreak. This treatment will only apply to adjustments to the normal operating practices, and to the extent required to mitigate the threats from this outbreak. More information can be found here.
The Government of Jersey has made an number of reliefs available to businesses operating in Jersey and individual residents on account of COVID-19 including the postponement of GST payments and recognition of exceptional circumstances affecting the residence of individuals.