It is fair to say that this year has been an unprecedented and challenging one for all of us, not only in our home and family circumstances, but also in our business operations. 

We can only be thankful for our adaptable and committed team which has been able to continually assist our client base throughout the changing patterns of their requirements and work environment, during both the lockdown periods as well as the subsequent surge of activity, both accumulated and new. The whole firm has managed change with its customary enthusiasm, professionalism, good nature and problem-solving attitudes and our most sincere thanks go to them and to our clients and intermediaries who have been so resilient this year. We were also sad but happy for Peter in his election and devoting most of his time to pastures new, although grateful for his continued commitment support and assistance to our firm.

Expertise & Accolades

Ferbrache & Farrell (in its short history) established itself in its first year of reporting in fourth place in the prestigious and independent Monterey Guernsey Fund Report’s rankings. With only three long-established well known multi-jurisdictional offshore law firms ahead in the list, Ferbrache & Farrell is delighted with its position in this leading publication.

Early this year, Ferbrache & Farrell was also very pleased to have requested to work in conjunction alongside the Guernsey Construction Industry Forum (CIF) in the preparation of a new minor works template construction contract for use by the local construction industry and its clients.

Ferbrache & Farrell has also been shortlisted in 2020 for three Citywealth International Finance Centre Awards. Based on submissions, judges' recommendations and editorial research, the boutique independent law firm is in the running for Guernsey Law Firm of the Year, Law Firm of the Year – Litigation and Team of the Year – Litigation. The winners will be announced at a gala event on 23 February 2021.

We are also proud that four lawyers from Ferbrache & Farrell has been recognised in the Chambers & Partners UK Guide, 2021. Martin Jones joined Peter Ferbrache this year to receive a ranking for Dispute Resolution, while Alastair Hargreaves is listed for property and Gavin Farrell for Corporate & Financing including Investment Funds.

A separate recognition has been awarded to our corporate partner Gavin Farrell who has been named Lawyer of the Year for investment funds in Guernsey in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers has been publishing highly regarded guides to the legal profession for more than 30 years and in more than 70 countries worldwide. Gavin’s recognition is based entirely on peer review where lists of outstanding lawyers are compiled by conducting exhaustive surveys in which leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers.

Towards the end of 2020 Ferbrache & Farrell continues its upwards progression in the rankings of The Legal 500 United Kingdom Solicitors 2021 edition. One of the leading directories for the legal industry, The Legal 500 has ranked the firm in Banking and Finance, Commercial Property, Corporate and M&A, Dispute Resolution and Investment Funds. The firm has nine lawyers from all departments named in the guide. Gavin Farrell, is in the Hall of Fame for Banking & Finance and Investment funds and a Leading Individual in Corporate and M&A.

The Legal 500 named our dispute resolution partner Martin Jones a ‘Next Generation Partner’, Alastair Hargreaves a ‘Leading Individual’ and associate Alison Antill as a ‘Rising Star’ for the second year running. Gavin Farrell remains the only Guernsey Advocate to be in both Halls of Fame and all three corporate rankings.

Our Expansion

With steady and sustainable growth of the firm, in January 2020 we further expanded our litigation team’s family law offering with the appointment of Advocate and Associate Sarah Millar. Sarah’s practice encompasses all aspects of family law, including divorce and childcare issues, as well as general civil litigation and employment matters.

Sarah’s appointment was shortly followed by another appointment of the experienced litigator Robert Breckon in February 2020. Advocate Breckon deals with all aspects of local and international commercial litigation, including trust-related disputes, professional negligence related matters, contract and tort-based claims, as well as contentious and non-contentious employment matters.

In spring 2020, we continued to expand our offering and expertise with the addition of new counsel in our corporate and commercial department, Helen McGeoch. Helen is a senior lawyer who has in excess of 20 years’ corporate law experience. Helen practices in all areas of corporate and commercial law with particular expertise in banking and finance transactions, mergers and acquisitions and commercial agreements. She is also experienced in advising on regulatory and a range of other corporate matters.

This summer we welcomed the senior and highly experienced Counsel and practising Solicitor Anna Douglass who joined Ferbrache & Farrell’s sizeable property team to shortly offer a specialist and bespoke English property law offering to Guernsey residents, investors and other offshore clients, including private banks and trust companies and asset managers. 

In autumn 2020, Anna’s appointment was subsequently followed by the addition of Associate Joshua Black who joined Ferbrache & Farrell’s corporate and commercial team having previously gained general corporate and commercial experience at Specsavers and a local trust company.

You may wish to see our success and growth in numbers at https://www.ferbrachefarrell.com/our-people/

Memorable Deals and Cases

Corporate

This year has certainly tested the wide knowledge and expertise (and drafting skills) of our corporate team. We have been instructed on a very varied mix of instructions, corporate mergers, sales and acquisitions (both local or as part of an international transactions with a Guernsey component), as well as restructurings, fund (both private and public) and asset manager set ups, banking and finance work (acting mainly for borrowers) and regulatory and advisory. We are also very fortunate to have a very good balanced broad client base, both local as well as international, going from both individual and institutional Guernsey business clients to global financial institutions as well as large multi-jurisdictional trading groups and asset managers.

In 2020 Ferbrache & Farrell worked with Aztec to support leading European venture capital specialist firm Lakestar with the side by side closing of its 678 million EUR third-generation fund “Lakestar III” and “Lakestar Growth I” (“the Funds”). With a focus on early and growth-stage internet and technology ventures, Lakestar invests in global companies and has a presence in Europe, North America and Asia. Their previous investments include Facebook, Spotify, Skype and Revolut.

The Ferbrache & Farrell corporate team provided Guernsey commercial, legal and regulatory advice to Lakestar in respect of the formation, structuring and launch of the funds.

Private Client/ Property

On the property and private client side of the practice, we have seen the highest transaction levels in the marketplace for several years, with unprecedented levels of demand.  The local and open market has been exceptionally busy with many instances of contracts becoming unconditional in days (rather than weeks) and properties being purchased despite not having been seen in person.  Commercial property has been buoyant, and we have been very pleased to welcome a number of relocating businesses and families to the Island.  Our planning and population management instructions have kept us busy, and no doubt these will increase as we head into Spring fairly soon.

In autumn this year, Ferbrache & Farrell was proud to be involved as legal counsel for the acquiring investment company in one of the largest commercial property transactions of the year.  The target real estate is a very well-known, Grade A office building in the heart of St Peter Port with institutional tenants.  A number of complex legal issues were successfully resolved, and completion attracted very positive press coverage and subsequent enquiries.

Dispute Resolution

Building on the recruitment of advocates Robert Breckon and Sarah Millar, the department has continued to see an increase in the number of instructions, particularly in the trust, regulatory and matrimonial fields.

It also continues to be involved in significant cases that are heard in the Royal Court. These include Manita Khuller v FNB International Trustees Limited, where the department acted for the successful appellant in the Court of Appeal, overturning a first instance finding that a trustee had not been grossly negligent.

The department also acted for some of the creditors in an application under the Companies (Guernsey) Law 2008 for the Court to approve a contract for the sale of the assets of a Guernsey company in compulsory liquidation. The decision provides helpful guidance for liquidators and creditors as to the issues the Court will take into account in deciding whether to grant such approval.

Martin Jones and Associate Alison Antill acted for the Third and Fourth Joined respondents in the application.

Conclusion

Whilst our firm has been busy especially since the end of our Guernsey lockdown, we are always mindful of others as well as businesses, colleagues and friends who have experienced a very slow and difficult trading year, both in Guernsey and off our shores.  We are privileged to live and work in the Bailiwick of Guernsey and look forward to playing our part in the community in 2021 and in Guernsey’s revive and thrive goal.

Author Gavin Farrell Advocate & Partner
Author Alastair Hargreaves Advocate, Solicitor & Managing Partner
Author Martin Jones Advocate & Partner