Recognising your limits: The treatment of segregated portfolio companies in onshore liquidations

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Like most other developed offshore jurisdictions, the British Virgin Islands promotes a type of company which seeks to compartmentalise the assets and liabilities of various “portfolios” away from other portfolios and the company’s general assets. In the British Virgin Islands these are known as segregated portfolio companies (or “SPCs”) but in other jurisdictions the equivalent type of company is often known as a protected cell company or segregated cell company.

For those not already familiar with SPCs, a very brief summary is in order: an SPC is a company which compartmentalises its assets into designated portfolios. A creditor of one portfolio may only have recourse to the assets attributable to that portfolio and (when those are exhausted) to the assets attributable to the company as general assets. However, a creditor will not have recourse to the assets of a different portfolio (which are similarly ring fenced for the benefit of that portfolio’s creditors). But, despite the segregation of assets and liabilities into these different portfolios, the SPC is still regarded as a single legal entity.

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