CD: Could you provide an outline of the current dispute resolution environment in the British Virgin Islands (BVI)? Over the years, would you say the BVI has been an attractive venue when it comes to resolving disputes?

McNeil: The British Virgin Islands has a modern and effective Court system that is flexible and capable. With the introduction of the Commercial Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on 4 May 2009, the BVI has become one of the premier Caribbean jurisdictions for the resolution of disputes with a cross-border element. The Commercial Court in the BVI is presided over by eminent English Queen’s Counsel, Mr Justice Edward Bannister. The BVI has some 500,000 active business companies that are engaged in trade and commerce all over the world and this results in the Commercial Court dealing with a very large volume of disputes many of which have cross-border elements. The volume of litigation has generated a high demand for quality legal services and the BVI legal profession has expanded accordingly. BVI law firms draw their staff from many of the top law firms in England and Wales as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada. The specialist cross-border nature of BVI litigation frequently draws the best legal minds from the London bar to appear in the new Commercial Court building, which has specialised information technology equipment for the conduct of large hearings. The building regularly hosts trials involving multiple teams of lawyers in relation to disputes whose value is frequently in the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Jul-Sep 2014 issue