BLOG: Collaboration between industry and regulator underpins Legislative Reform Programme

31 Jan 20

The Hon Albert Isola MP, Minister for Digital and Financial Services


Gibraltar’s status as a modern, international financial services jurisdiction has been copper-fastened in recent years, with our regulatory strategy being deeply informed by the needs of industry. This industry-first approach means we are continuously striving to evolve and deliver a framework that is straightforward for financial services operators to navigate and fit for purpose. The latest major step in this ongoing effort took place on 15th January 2020, when Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar commenced the new Financial Services Act which streamlines the entire legislation for the sector into a single Act reinforcing Gibraltar’s position as a highly progressive and attractive jurisdiction to do business in. 


The result of the largest ever single review of Gibraltar’s financial services legislation, consolidates more than 90 separate pieces of legislation into one framework. By taking a new, harmonised approach, the reforms will make Gibraltar’s financial services regulatory system easier to navigate in an increasingly fast-paced industry.


The landmark legislation facilitates updates and improves upon existing legislation, and also introduces new measures including increased checks and balances on the regulator. These new rules, many of which build on existing legislation, are aimed at making compliance easier, thus increasing both transparency and standards within the industry. Amongst the provisions introduced in the new act are the Permissions Regime, the Regulated Individuals Regime, and the establishment of an independent Decision-Making Committee. The Permissions Regime has replaced the current licensing framework, streamlining the licensing process and simplifying information. 


A new Regulated Individuals Regime requires individuals responsible for certain functions within a firm to seek approval from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC). These functions will be sector-specific, taking into account new and modern prominent industries in Gibraltar such as the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) industry which we have worked hard to advance in recent years. 


As part of the LRP, an independent Decision-Making Committee (DMC) for disputes has been established, comprising a roster of lawyers and seasoned financial services professionals including Sir Peter Caruana QC as Chair, former Minister for Justice Neil Costa, Nigel Feetham QC, Joseph Caruana, Edgar Lavarello, and Emma Perez. 


With the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union today, 31st January 2020, this new consolidated framework for Gibraltar’s financial services industry will strengthen our position at a time of potential instability and change. The Government of Gibraltar, in particular the Department of Digital and Financial Services, has been working on this project for a number of years. At this crucial time, the Act will assist us in maintaining our position as a leading global jurisdiction for financial services providers, whilst maintaining regulatory alignment with the United Kingdom.


The newly invigorated spirit of collaboration between industry and our regulator reinforces the blueprint to creating the right conditions for business to thrive on the Rock, with trust and respect at the core of that relationship. I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring our shared vision for the Act to fruition. Together, we are directing the future of Gibraltar’s financial services environment, one that is deeply in tune with the needs of industry. By upholding consistently high standards, and prioritising innovative pursuits, we can future-proof Gibraltar’s success as a modern and dynamic financial services jurisdiction.