Harney Westwood & Riegels updates

Revisiting costs awards – BVI Court of Appeal varies costs order based on US appeal decision
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 20 September 2018

In Fairfield Sentry Limited (In Liquidation) v Farnum Place LLC the BVI Court of Appeal varied a costs order based on a material change of circumstances – namely, a decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The BVI court held that the US decision was a "material change of circumstances" which allowed it to vary the costs award by disallowing the costs of Farnum's expert.

Appointing liquidators after alleged loss of substratum
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 06 September 2018

The Court of Appeal recently considered the test for appointing liquidators to a company following an alleged loss of substratum. The case provides insight on the principles of loss of substratum, particularly in a case where a company's object is not prescribed by its memorandum and articles of association.

Discretionary beneficiaries' rights to trust information
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 30 August 2018

In separate but related proceedings, the BVI courts have permitted an applicant to inspect documentation relating to the liquidation of certain BVI companies. The decisions solidify the open justice policy and highlight the importance of allowing beneficiaries to oversee trustees' activities in order to ensure that the trust property is properly managed and that trustees can be held to account accordingly.

Singapore and BVI courts cooperate against cross-border fraud
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 16 August 2018

The Singapore Court of Appeal recently ruled to reinstate and expand a Mareva injunction against fraudster defendants in a conspiracy claim, providing strong support for an earlier decision of the BVI Commercial Court in related proceedings. The decision demonstrates the importance of consistency between courts in multiple jurisdictions in complex cross-border cases.

Court of Appeal reaffirms that it will rarely reverse findings of fact
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 09 August 2018

The BVI Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal against the liquidators of BVI company Pioneer Freight Futures Company Limited and reaffirmed the established law regarding reversing findings of fact. The court held that it will intervene only in rare cases, such as when there is no evidence to support the conclusion, the conclusion was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence or the conclusion was one that no reasonable judge could have reached.

Trusts and disclosure: a recent lesson
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 02 August 2018

A recent BVI decision highlights the need for trustees to think carefully and, if in doubt, take advice before refusing an information request from a beneficiary. The consequences of getting this wrong (not least in potential personal cost exposure for the trustee) can be severe.

Sixtieth anniversary of New York Convention – time to choose BVI arbitration and enforcement
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 05 July 2018

The British Virgin Islands is a pro-arbitration jurisdiction. Under the Arbitration Act, with regard to both New York Convention awards and non-New York Convention awards, the party against which the award has been made can make representation to the court regarding a refusal to enforce. An example of the British Virgin Islands' pro-enforcement approach can be seen in Belport Development Limited v Chimichanga Corporation.

Freezing injunction: what is a good arguable case?
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 21 June 2018

The BVI Commercial Court has provided helpful guidance as to the threshold for a good arguable case, dismissing an application to discharge a worldwide freezing injunction obtained by a claimant. The court held that where there is a good arguable case that a defendant has acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or with "unacceptable low standards of morality giving rise to a feeling of uneasiness about the defendant", further evidence is often unnecessary to justify a freezing injunction.

Avoiding evasion: court takes pragmatic approach to serving uncooperative defendants abroad
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 14 June 2018

International litigation and asset recovery require the pursuit of defendants and their assets across borders; therefore, it is a routine aspect of BVI litigation for claimants to serve legal documents abroad. Two recent decisions should significantly decrease the delay in effecting service abroad and pave the way for a more efficient approach to service out in the future.

No armchair liquidators – court confirms appointment of provisional liquidators to Swiss company
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 07 June 2018

In the latest judgment regarding the DPH liquidation, the BVI Court of Appeal upheld the appointment of BVI provisional liquidators in respect of a Swiss company and clarified that evidence of dissipation of assets (in the Mareva sense) may not be a pre-condition to the appointment of provisional liquidators.

Tick, tock – the need to keep an eye on the clock in liquidator applications
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 24 May 2018

A recent Court of Appeal decision serves as a useful reminder to keep an eye on the clock when seeking the appointment of liquidators to a company in the British Virgin Islands. The decision makes clear that any extension must be expressly granted and legal practitioners must therefore keep an eye on the clock to avoid a deemed dismissal under Section 168 of the Insolvency Act.

Court strikes out passing-off claim in relation to goodwill held outside British Virgin Islands
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 17 May 2018

Claims of passing off are rare in the British Virgin Islands and a recent attempt to bring a BVI action in relation to goodwill held outside the jurisdiction has failed. The court examined the law and relevant English authorities on the tort of passing off. It opined that goodwill is governed by territoriality and that in order to succeed, the claimant must prove that it has goodwill in the form of customers in the jurisdiction in which the suit is undertaken.

Court of Appeal provides guidance on directors' powers
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 18 January 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
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 14 December 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
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 26 October 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
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 07 September 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.

Pacific Andes saga: forum shopping, Chapter 11 and just and equitable winding up
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 31 August 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.

Shareholder activism: considerations for BVI companies
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 24 August 2017

As the world's leading incorporation vehicles, BVI companies are listed on exchanges and conduct business around the world and may therefore expect to be occasionally involved in activist campaigns or other challenges from shareholders. However, many investors and their advisers may be less familiar with BVI company law than their domestic legislation.

Government raises charter cruising permit fees
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 17 August 2017

The government recently enacted two measures regarding the cruising permit fees that each charter boat must pay while carrying paying passengers in the British Virgin Islands. Under the Cruising Permit (Amendment) Act, boats will now be classified as either home-based or foreign-based charter boats, with set fees for each classification. The Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges (Amendment of Schedule) Order 2017 confirms these fees for internal government purposes.

Legislation to change work permit fee calculation enacted
Harney Westwood & Riegels
  • Private Client & Offshore Services
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 10 August 2017

The government recently enacted a measure regarding the fees payable for work permits in the British Virgin Islands. The amendment order replaces the employee flat fee system with an incremental calculation based on salary bands, which now generally assume a higher gross salary. It also replaces most exceptions to the previous scheme, keeping only those for domestic workers.

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