Cone Marshall falls in the same category with leading law firms across the world due to the unique services they offer to their clients. Founded in 1999, it has over the years grown to become one of the most trusted law firms in New Zealand and overseas. Cone Marshall offers tax and estate litigation support and most of their clients are based overseas. The reason they have managed to attract clients from other countries is because the firm uses different systems of handling cases that allow easier and faster resolution.
A look at the firm in one decade shows the dedication and effort that has gone to its development. When it was launched, the mechanisms available to manage the firm were not sufficient to allow it to penetrate into the international scene. In fact, Cone Marshall at the time struggled to get clients in the local market but following the massive changes that were done by its leaders in 2005, Cone Marshall started to experience growth in number of clients.
Towards 2008, Cone Marshall had already started getting clients from overseas locations, who were attracted by the great services it offers.
Getting the great support the firm enjoys from overseas markets took the effort of great professionals, who also introduced an online filing database that offers an easy way to share information about problems. Clients who are based in other countries don’t need to travel to the offices of the firm to access services. They can use the online system to present the problems they want solved. Through the digital service system, resolving cases takes fewer days.
Several professionals can be applauded for the ideas that helped the firm to rebrand to become a trusted brand in the industry.
One of these experts is Karen Marshall, a lawyer whose specialization in commercial litigation helped her to have better insight into the challenges Cone Marshall was facing when she joined in 2005. She introduced new strategies and methods of working on cases presented by clients and she is the brain behind the development of the online access portal that further simplifies the resolution of cases launched by their clients based in different countries.
The New Zealand media recently did a feature program on foreign trusts. It portrayed foreign trusts as complex and involving foreigners, elites, and incomprehensible financial agreements. Lawyer Geoffrey Cone says there is nothing remarkable in the foreign trusts. Activities which take place during such deals are just part of an everyday routine. He further says that New Zealand is not one of the countries that OECD recognizes as tax havens. When a state is classified as a tax haven, it means that there is no transparency, only nominal taxes are imposed (or none at all), and the laws of the land do not permit sharing of information with other countries.
In 2002, OECD’s Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters stated that there advocated for the exchange of information by countries as a requirement to enforce domestic tax laws. New Zealand became one of the countries to agree to these international tax standards. The action was advantageous for the country considering that there is transparency on tax issues.
The new laws dealing with the trusts were introduced by one Michael Cullen, after making many consultations. Under the rules, the IRD requires the trustee of a foreign trust to have a Foreign Trust Disclosure form. He/she is also required to keep the financial records for to aid in the tax process. Some of the documents required by the IRD are; settlement and distribution details, the trust deed and the amount of cash that the trustee gets and spends. It is also mandatory that all these records are written in the English language and kept in New Zealand, failure to which the trustee would attract heavy fines.
In many countries, people settling trusts must give evidence of funds to their central banks or revenue authorities. Settlers are also required to report information in their countries, and this ensures that the tax authorities have the right information they can use to authorize a transaction. The 39 double tax agreements in New Zealand are used to help prevent tax evasion and avoidance, and aid in making cross-border trade inexpensive.
Geoffrey Cone is a partner at Cone Marshall Law firm. He attended the University of Otago in New Zealand and graduated with honors and a postgraduate diploma in trust and tax law. Cone started his practice in Auckland, New Zealand. He then moved to Christchurch where he became the Chairman and partner in one of the top law firms. While at Christchurch, Geoffrey dealt with commercial litigation. Cone Marshall Limited, his firm, is the only one in New Zealand that handles trust and tax planning.