British Virgin Islands updates

Immigration

BVI exempts certain categories of people from work permit requirements
  • British Virgin Islands
  • September 08 2017

The government recently enacted the Labour Code (Work Permit Exemption) Order 2017, which excludes certain categories of people from the need to obtain work permits. In particular, the exemption for directors visiting the British Virgin Islands for board meetings supports the territory's position as the leading corporate domicile in the global economy.


Insolvency & Restructuring

Pacific Andes saga: forum shopping, Chapter 11 and just and equitable winding up
  • British Virgin Islands
  • September 01 2017

'Forum shopping' is the practice of choosing the most favourable jurisdiction in which to bring a claim. In principle, there is nothing wrong in seeking to have a case heard in the forum which is most favourable to the client. However, it can lead to some fierce jurisdictional battles, particularly in insolvency, where the choice between debtor and creditor-friendly procedures can be stark. The Commercial Court has been wrestling with this situation over the past 10 months.

Green light for liquidators to draw interim payments without fee approval
  • British Virgin Islands
  • November 11 2016

The BVI Commercial Court recently clarified whether the BVI Insolvency Act 2003 provides a basis for liquidators to draw fees on account before having formal approval from either a creditors' committee or the court. The court also specifically provided that newly appointed liquidators can draw payments of up to 80% on account of their reasonable remuneration and expenses on an interim basis without the need to obtain prior approval from the creditors' committee or the court.

Appointment of receivers in the British Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • April 29 2016

The receiver arguably represents the most powerful weapon in the armoury available for asset tracing in the British Virgin Islands. As BVI companies are often used as holding vehicles, using a receiver to take control of the corporate structure and move 'downstream' to the assets is a particularly potent strategy. Recent developments in case law have made this remedy more widely available.

Fairfield Sentry – new guidance from BVI Court
  • British Virgin Islands
  • April 01 2016

The Fairfield Sentry saga continued recently with a new BVI judgment concerning the status of the related US Bankruptcy Court proceedings. The applicants were former registered shareholders of the Fairfield Sentry and Fairfield Lambda BVI feeder funds which had redeemed their shares before Bernard Madoff's fraud was exposed. They sought to prevent the liquidators of the funds from recovering their redemption payments in the US proceedings.

Exercise of discretion to wind up company not "head-counting exercise"
  • British Virgin Islands
  • March 25 2016

The BVI High Court recently confirmed that the exercise of the court's discretion whether to make, dismiss or adjourn an order appointing liquidators does not necessarily depend on the wishes of the majority of creditors – even when a vast majority of unsecured creditors both in number and by value oppose the appointment of liquidators.


International Trade

Iran sanctions to be repealed in line with EU/UK position
  • British Virgin Islands
  • September 23 2016

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the European Union and the United Kingdom agreed to terminate or relax nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, including related designations. Once the BVI 2011 direction is repealed, the British Virgin Islands' position will be further aligned with that of the United Kingdom and be in keeping with the relaxation of the Iran restrictions.


Litigation

Guidelines adopted for communication and cooperation between courts
  • British Virgin Islands
  • July 04 2017

The British Virgin Islands recently adopted new guidelines for communication and cooperation between courts in cross-border insolvency matters. The guidelines are designed primarily to enhance communication between courts, insolvency representatives and other parties in the context of global restructurings and insolvency. As a result of the increased efficiency, it is hoped that stakeholders will see a reduction in delays and costs.

Latin America focus: litigating trusts disputes in the British Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • May 09 2017

The British Virgin Islands has long been hailed as a leading offshore jurisdiction for wealth management and asset protection among Latin American high-net-worth families and individuals. The outcome in a recent case augments the credibility of the British Virgin Islands as a jurisdiction in this regard. The case also highlights the strengths of the BVI-only Virgin Islands Special Trust Act trust structure.

Commercial Court appoints three new judges
  • British Virgin Islands
  • January 24 2017

There have recently been three judicial appointments to the Commercial Court designed to increase the capacity of the court in 2017. The appointments should provide further momentum and expertise to the BVI Commercial Division and enhance the court's ability to deal with complex cases promptly and effectively.

Widening the net: court expands post-judgment Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction
  • British Virgin Islands
  • December 13 2016

A BVI court recently issued an important judgment in relation to the obligations of a registered agent to provide third-party disclosure to assist a foreign judgment creditor to trace assets. The court held that Norwich Pharmacal relief post-judgment in aid of enforcement is, in principle, available where there is reasonable suspicion that a disclosure defendant is involved in the wilful evasion of another's judgment debt and to assist in securing compliance with freezing orders, both domestic and foreign.

BVI leave requirements in derivative actions by foreign companies
  • British Virgin Islands
  • November 01 2016

The BVI Commercial Court recently considered a claim for costs of a discontinued strike-out application, which was brought by the defendants as part of an ongoing multi-jurisdictional family dispute. The claimant's substantive action in the British Virgin Islands involved derivative proceedings, which were brought on behalf of a foreign company, for the recovery of funds which the defendants were alleged to have wrongfully paid to another entity.


Private Client & Offshore Services

Contributed by Aristodemou Loizides Yiolitis LLC
Tax information exchange: an overview
  • British Virgin Islands
  • January 25 2018

The BVI tax information exchange system is largely modelled on international principles developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and is split into two types of regime. The 'automatic' exchange of information regime requires financial institutions to exchange formulistic data about the accounts of foreign taxpayers, while the 'on request' regime deals with specific and potentially in-depth investigations into the affairs of named taxpayers with offshore or international holdings.

Court of Appeal provides guidance on directors' powers
  • British Virgin Islands
  • January 18 2018

A recent Court of Appeal ruling provided guidance on directors' powers after considering whether a fresh issuance of shares by directors which altered the balance of voting power between the shareholders was done for a proper purpose. The court held that directors should not issue shares in a manner that could affect the balance of power between groups of shareholders or create new majorities, irrespective of whether the old or new majority have a proprietary interest in the fund.

Launching an ICO in British Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • December 14 2017

Interest in the setting up and distribution of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore locations has increased rapidly during 2017, and this is expected to continue. No ICO or blockchain-specific rules or guidelines have yet been issued by the government or regulator; however, there are several important issues for parties in the British Virgin Islands to consider, including the key laws and regulations surrounding the issue.

BVI continuations and discontinuations – an overview
  • British Virgin Islands
  • October 26 2017

The ability to continue a foreign company as a BVI company or to continue a BVI company as a company under the laws of another jurisdiction quickly and seamlessly is just one example of the many flexible features of the Business Companies Act 2004. This is particularly useful in the context of corporate reorganisations, and counsel should be aware of the process and requirements for continuations and discontinuations.

BVI exempts certain categories of people from work permit requirements
  • British Virgin Islands
  • September 07 2017

The government recently enacted the Labour Code (Work Permit Exemption) Order 2017, which excludes certain categories of people from the need to obtain work permits. In particular, the exemption for directors visiting the British Virgin Islands for board meetings supports the territory's position as the leading corporate domicile in the global economy.