Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has announced that the BVI is an arbitration jurisdiction, and is open for business following the International Arbitration Conference.
The conference was held under the theme ‘New Horizons of Opportunity.’ Premier Smith described the event as one element in a “perfect storm of opportunity”, and provided an update on the work done following the Government-commissioned financial services consultancy, with the implementation of arbitration services as a top priority.
The Premier pointed to several factors that augurs well for the jurisdiction as an arbitration centre, including the Territory’s new judge to the Commercial Court, Justice Barry Leon, who has unparalleled qualifications and experience in arbitration, and BVI’s positioning as a global offshore leader in international business companies, the feeder to arbitration opportunities.
Premier Smith said, “We have a stellar reputation as a Commercial Court that is a world-class dispenser of commercial justice. With all of these attributes of the BVI as a financial services jurisdiction, it can only spell our success in branding our reputation for international arbitration.”
The Premier added, “We also took into account the need to position the BVI as an international centre for the settlement of commercial disputes as a way to expand the Territory’s services industry. This is because we understood that a growing number of high net worth and sophisticated business men and women prefer the ease and confidentiality that mediation and arbitration offer.”
The one day conference was held on Thursday, May 21, and was organised by Oyster Global Marketing and its industry partners.
The meeting attracted a cadre of renowned and distinguished global expert arbitrators such as the Right Honourable Lord Peter Goldsmith, Q.C. and Dame Janice Periera, who participated in panel discussions, with the Keynote Address delivered by Justice Barry Leon, High Court of the Virgin Islands (Commercial Division).
Topics covered during the plenary sessions included the Business of Arbitration which examined the economic benefits of dispute resolution as a third pillar of the Virgin Islands economy.
Panelists also discussed the growing global popularity of arbitration as a preferred option for dispute resolution, and the Arbitration Act 2013 which provides for the establishment of the BVI International Arbitration Centre to facilitate arbitration and mediation. As an arbitration jurisdiction, the centre will be designed to provide key dispute resolution services critical to support effective arbitral tribunals.
A focus group was established In September, 2011 to review and recommend a proper arbitration regime in the British Virgin Islands. It is anticipated that with an appropriate legislative regime, well-established standards, and a process for the expeditious and fair resolution of disputes, the BVI can develop a niche as a centre for international arbitration.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is therefore committed to making the Territory a jurisdiction of choice for international arbitration. It is anticipated that with this sector, additional employment opportunities will be available to provide many of the supplementary services needed to support this branch and other areas of the financial services.