Geography & People
Gibraltar is at the southern tip of Spain covering an area of around 6.5 square kilometres. It is one of the two mythological Pillars of Hercules, the other being in Ceuta on the African continent across the Straits. To the Romans, Gibraltar marked not only the end of their “Mare Nostrum”, but also the end of the world, “plus ultra”, nothing beyond. In Greek mythology, Gibraltar was the entrance to Hades.
The population of Gibraltar is in the region of 30,000 of which the vast majority are native Gibraltarians of mixed ancestry from Malta, Italy, Britain, Spain and Moroccan Jews, to mention a few. The official language is English and most Gibraltarians speak Spanish as well.
Political Status & Government
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory with its own Constitution and internal self-government including complete power over taxation. In 2006 Gibraltar agreed a new Constitution with the United Kingdom which is non-colonial in nature and provides Gibraltar with complete self-government except for defence and foreign affairs for which the British Government is responsible. Gibraltar is a parliamentary democracy based on the British system and institutions. It has its own Parliament which consists of seventeen elected members.
The Legal System in Gibraltar is based on the English common law, the principles of equity and Gibraltar Acts of Parliament. Much of our legislation follows English law, practice and procedure with variations to suit local conditions.
The Court system is similar to that in the United Kingdom. Gibraltar has its own Supreme Court which has both civil and criminal jurisdiction and a Magistrates’ Court. Appeals are heard, initially, by the Gibraltar Court of Appeal which is composed of three English judges who sit in Gibraltar periodically. A right of further appeal lies to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.
Gibraltar lawyers train in the United Kingdom either as barristers or solicitors. Gibraltar is a part of the EU and, therefore, all relevant Directives are implemented and all Regulations form a part of Gibraltar law. More information appears below.
Financial Services Regulation
The Financial Services Commission (“FSC”) is an independent statutory body established by a Gibraltar Act of Parliament. It is responsible for licensing and regulating all financial services activity in Gibraltar including banking, insurance, investment services, funds and trust and company management.
The FSC regulates to very high standards and ensures that the provisions of all EU directives relevant to the finance centre are complied with. This guarantees that Gibraltar licensed professionals and institutions operate in accordance with the very highest standards. More information may be seen at www.fsc.gi
Gibraltar within the EU & EEA
Gibraltar is part of the European Union by virtue of Article 299(4) of the Treaty of Nice. It is also a part of the European Economic Area by virtue of the United Kingdom Treaty of Accession. Being a small territory, Gibraltar is excluded from the Common Customs Tariff, the Common Agricultural Policy and the requirement to impose VAT on goods and services.
Gibraltar implements all EU directives which apply to us including, of course, those regarding financial services, banking and investor protection. Regulations of the European Council are a part of Gibraltar law so important pieces of legislation such as laws for the reciprocal enforcement of judgments between EU States are thus applicable in Gibraltar. Notably, Council Regulation 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters within the EU is in force in Gibraltar.
As a member of the EU and EEA, entities established in Gibraltar can take advantage of European rules on the free movement of services. As long as a Member State has implemented legislation giving effect to relevant European Directives, an entity in that Member State will be able to provide its services or operate throughout the EU and the EEA states. Gibraltar entities enjoy passporting rights into the EU and the EEA single market in respect of investment services, insurance and banking.
Additionally, Gibraltar entities are able to provide services within the EU which are not regulated by relevant directives provided they comply with the laws of that Member State.
Gibraltar’s position as an EU Finance Centre is thus unique and no other offshore finance centre can claim to have these advantages.