Ian Le Breton © 2019-2020 Legal stuff

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People sniggered when I used to bang on about Gibraltar. They’re not laughing now.


I made my first visit in April 1982 a few months before my 20th birthday. Some describe Gibraltar in terms of Marmite – you either love it, or you don’t. My own affair with the Rock began during that last trip as a teenager – by air from Tangier, just across the narrow strait separating Europe from Africa. I have been passionate about it ever since, culminating in working there and making Gibraltar my home for more than twelve years.


As a proud Jerseyman, in the beginning, people thought me odd promoting Gibraltar especially given its small size and apparent lack of appeal then to the international finance community. Size one can do nothing about – although there has been extensive reclamation from the sea. But a combination of other factors both external and self-administered have seen the stars align in recent years so that the future really is bright – and people around the world are sitting up to take note.


But why? And why now?


Brexit has been a transformative process. Despite its own 96% “remain” vote, Gibraltar had to exit the EU with Britain on 31 January 2020 and followed the same 11 month transition period thereafter. A wide-ranging treaty is planned between the EU and Britain for Gibraltar. Watch this space but early indications are very positive.


The international finance sector is well developed and in robust good health despite the challenges of the last year. The community is well regulated locally and very regularly promoted internationally. Crucially the sector is actively supported by government. The Minister for Digital and Financial Services (the Hon Albert Isola MP) also oversees, as his title suggests, Gibraltar’s innovative, world class DLT sector, often – somewhat inaccurately – referred to as “blockchain”. No matter the moniker, in the rarefied universe occupied by DLT business and especially the legal support provided locally, rest assured that Gibraltar punches well above its weight. And more besides.


In the trust and company field a major deal was announced in March. Sovereign, my former employer and already one of the largest independent firms locally, consolidated its position still further by acquiring STM Fidecs’ trust and company management business. This follows Sovereign’s recent major investment in a new global HQ - an award winning building on Main Street.   


Banking locally would perhaps benefit from having more players but those present compete for the thriving domestic and international markets. The industry has changed so much anyway that in addition to a bank account, “substance” has become ever more important. Decent office space is available – including the World Trade Center at Ocean Village. The support services covering all sectors are second to none.


Away from finance but still important for its image, Gibraltar is the first territory worldwide to vaccinate its entire adult population against Covid-19. True, at some 33,000 residents, this is equivalent to a modestly sized English town but for the Rock it is about much more than the numbers. The positive publicity generated worldwide is invaluable. The sight of giant RAF transporters flying in the crucial material was a great relief to a local populace hit hard, as elsewhere, by the pandemic.

New air routes – some never tried before – have been announced and all the signs point to a decent recovery as Europe re-opens.  


People are talking about the Rock. Apart from the finance industry, these include the UK Prime Minister in a recent UK press briefing and indeed the UK Foreign Secretary who made a flying visit to the Rock last month.


I have been passionate about Gibraltar for close to forty years. I invite those of you yet to take a look at this historic place to do so. For it has its eye most definitely on a rosy future.st definitely on a rosy future        


12 April 2021to see the cutest animal pictures (and please I’ve seen enough home cooking results too)

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