New Zealand as an Asset Protection Trust Jurisdiction

Many Zetland clients will be familiar with the Belize Trusts and the fact that Belize is the most aggressive asset protection jurisdiction in the world with a statute of limitations, (for fraudulent conveyance), of zero years. As a consequence that means that the initial gift to the trust (or any subsequent gift) can never be challenged through the Belize courts, once accepted by the trustee, no matter what the circumstances leading to the gift. That is all well and good, of course, but Belize is perceived to be a very offshore jurisdiction and bodies such as the OECD and the ECB seems now pursuing an anti-offshore agenda. So holding European situs assets through a Belize trust is becoming problematic and many European banks are now refusing to open bank accounts for offshore entities including trusts or trust underlying companies. The malaise is also spreading as some Asian banks are bringing in new restrictions on establishing bank accounts for offshore entities.
One of Zetland’s other trust jurisdictions is New Zealand (“NZ”) and that is definitely not an offshore jurisdiction and is in fact one of the 34 member countries of the OECD. However the NZ “foreign trust” regime offers the same kind of tax exemption, for trust fund income, as offshore jurisdictions traditionally provide. In addition NZ has abolished capital gains and inheritance taxes so a NZ trust would not be subject to same.
It is a little known fact that NZ can also be used as an asset protection trust jurisdiction even through NZ Trust law has no specific creditor protection provisions, such as Belize has, nor any special rules that protect NZ foreign trusts against creditor or other claims. However NZ law does have rules in relation to creditor claims, forced heirship, enforcement of judgments and community property that can make a creditor claim ineffective when heard by a NZ court.
The Insolvency (Cross Border) Act 2006 and the Insolvency Act 2006 have created a situation where a claim by a foreign creditor can only made by the trustee in bankruptcy for the transferor with the consent of an NZ court. So that means that the only transactions that can challenge a gift to the trust are transfers at an under value or an “insolvent” gift made within two years of the transaction. After that period a creditor may only proceed under the Property Law Act 2007 which requires a specific intention to defraud creditors by the donor.
Although NZ law has no anti-forced heirship provisions that are common in offshore trust jurisdiction it is a fact that NZ has no forced heirship laws and property devolves according to the law of the Trustee. Furthermore NZ is not a signatory to the Hague Convention Applicable to Trusts and their Recognition. So a NZ court would not have jurisdiction to apply forced heirship principles to an NZ Trust even if a foreign judgment against the Trustee had been obtained.
There are also limitations on enforcement of judgments as the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act 1934 and the Registration under the Judicature Act 1908 apply only to Commonwealth countries. And even an action under Common law would apply to contractual or personam claims for a definite sum.
Community property rules in NZ are governed by the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and under this Act a NZ court may only grant orders where one of the spouses is domiciled in NZ, at the date of the application, or the marriage was solemnized.
In addition, because of the limited rights available to enforce foreign judgements, under the statutes considered above, and order of a NZ court would be a “non money” judgement, which requires an Order in Council to be effective and none has been made to date.
For more information on NZ Trusts please contact Dominik Stuiber (dominiks@zetland.biz) at the Zetland Hong Kong office.




2006年にニュージーランドにて国際と国内両方における破産法 (The Insolvency (Cross Border) Act 2006 / The Insolvency Act 2006) が制定され、委託者が破産した場合においてのみ、ニュージーランドの裁判所の同意にもとづき外国の債権者は受託者を通して債権の申し立てができます。信託にある資産を訴追できるのは資産の拠出から2年以内で資産価値が時価を下回ったものか回収不能な資産になります。この期間を過ぎた場合、債権者は2007年に施行された不動産法 (Property Law Act 2007) に基づき、債権者搾取目的があった場合においてのみ債権の申し立てが可能となります。


また、1934年に制定された判決相互執行法 (Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgment Act 1934)と1908年に制定された司法行政 (Judicature Act 1908)はイギリス連邦の国々にのみ適用されるので、強制執行には制限があり、たとえ強制執行されても執行できる内容にも制限が発生します。ニュージーランドにおいて共有財産は1976年に制定された不動産法 (Property (Relationships) Acts 1976) によって管理されており、ニュージーランド裁判所はニュージーランドに本籍(寄留)を構える者、またはその配偶者からの主張のみ受け入れます。この場合、配偶者は主張申請をした時点にてニュージーランド本籍者と婚姻していることが条件です。


ゼットランドではニュージーランド信託、香港信託、ベリーズ信託に対する受託者サービスを始めその他国における信託組成などの提供サービスを行っております。お問い合わせは intray@zetland.biz まで。