BVI and beyond

O’Neal Webster, a well-established British Virgin Islands law firm with offices in Tortola and London, is organized for the efficient delivery of legal services for our clients throughout the world. Our dedication to professional standards frames our business savvy approach and contributes to our clients’ successes. We stand by our client service promise and welcome your enquiry.


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Congratulations to O’Neal Webster Partner Christopher Simpson, who is again ranked by Chambers Global among outstanding Corporate, Finance, & Funds practitioners in the BVI for the 2024 edition.

Chambers rankings are a definitive mark of excellence across the international legal profession. A ranking from Chambers shows that a particular lawyer stands out in the most rigorous, independent and in-depth research process of any legal directory on the market and has emerged as one of the best in their field.

Managing Partner Vanessa King: “Christopher has a long-standing reputation for delivering sound advice with excellent client service. This recognition by Chambers is therefore well deserved.”

Simpson, the firm’s corporate and commercial practice head, is regularly instructed on significant corporate, banking, and investment fund transactions. He has been involved in several IPOs, including on AIM, TSX, NASDAQ, SGX and the LSE, and other groundbreaking deals. He handled one of the first-ever court-approved corporate arrangement schemes in the BVI, one of the largest single-asset real estate financings in China, several cross-border, billion-dollar deals and the largest domestic acquisition in the BVI, valued at over US$ 100 million. He is frequently instructed on fund launches, investment manager applications and related regulatory matters.

O’Neal Webster has again been recognised in Chambers Global Guide 2024 for the British Virgin Islands jurisdiction in Dispute Resolution and Corporate & Finance, including Funds categories.

Chambers rankings are a definitive mark of excellence across the international legal profession. A ranking from Chambers shows that a particular law firm or lawyer stands out in the most rigorous, independent, and in-depth research process of any legal directory on the market and has emerged as one of the best in their field.

Managing Partner Vanessa King: “The firm congratulates our lawyers and team members working in the corporate and dispute resolution practice areas. Being recognized by Chambers and Partners in its Global Guide confirms the depth and strength of our teams and our cross-team approach, which allows us to add value to client matters through efficiency and attention to detail. A special thank you to our clients and colleagues who have made this achievement possible.”

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O’Neal Webster is pleased to announce the appointment of attorney Jamealya Fahie to The Higher Education Licensing Board by the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands to serve a three-year term. The Board considers and reviews all applications submitted for licensing accredited higher education providers in the Territory.

As the Virgin Islands Government works to strengthen the Territory’s economy through entrepreneurship, innovation and investment, ensuring its higher education learning institutions operate at international standards is critical. Under established requirements, the Board will provide for licensed and accredited schools to offer programmes of study within the Virgin Islands that attract, accommodate and advance local, regional and international students.

“I am honoured by this opportunity to serve the Virgin Islands on the Higher Education Licensing Board,” says Ms Fahie. “I look forward to working with my fellow board members to ensure that quality educational opportunities are available for our community and beyond.”

The Board comprises six appointees with higher education, finance, accounting, business, commerce and law expertise.

New Rules for BVI Non-Belonger Landholders

BVI’s Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change published updated procedures for processing Non-Belonger Landholding Licences. Policy No. 1 of 2023 became effective on December 18, 2023, with the caveat that it is subject to change to accommodate legislative amendments and market conditions.

Welcome changes include built-in rental approval subject to obtaining a trade licence and fixed timelines for processing applications once they are submitted. In addition, the standard period for the development commitment for residential property developments has been increased from three to five years, with the possibility of an additional two-year extension.

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How to Save Your BVI Company From Insolvency

The world has witnessed the failure of several banks over the past months, starting with Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States, followed by the collapse of the 167-year-old global firm Credit Suisse. These bank failures can have a devastating impact on depositors, including bankruptcy.

Similarly, the spectacular collapse of FTX, at the time one of the world’s largest digital currency exchange platforms, shocked account holders who suddenly faced the prospect that their money was gone.

One month after FTX filed for bankruptcy, O’Neal Webster was engaged by a profitable British Virgin Islands company with significant exposure in the FTX collapse. The losses were so severe that the company faced insolvency. Notwithstanding, in conjunction with a local accounting and consultancy firm, we guided the company back to regular operations in about 100 days.

This article by Kerry Anderson, Head of O’Neal Webster’s Funds and Regulatory Department, summarizes what you should know when your BVI company faces a financial collapse caused by events out of your control.

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British Virgin Islands reinstated to EU’s list of cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

We are pleased to announce that following a meeting of the European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council on October 17, 2023, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been removed from the EU’s list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions for tax purposes (Annex I) and reinstated to the list of cooperative jurisdictions (Annex II).

The reinstatement to Annex II recognises the legislative changes (including the amendments to BVI Business Companies Act and BVI Business Companies Regulations made in 2022) which came into force on January 1, 2023, to meet requirements set out by the Global Forum as part of its Peer Review Process. As such, the BVI has now been reinstated to the Annex II list, including jurisdictions committed to implementing reforms.

Commenting on the announcement, BVI Minister for Financial Services, Labour, and Trade, Honourable Lorna Smith, OBE said: “We welcome the announcement that the BVI has been removed from Annex I of the EU list, which reflects the current state of play in the BVI. As a world-class international financial centre, the BVI is committed to maintaining the highest international standards on transparency and regulation.”

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Illusory trusts in the British Virgin Islands and section 86 of the BVI’s Trustee Act

The principles of English common law and equity form part of British Virgin Islands (BVI) law and would be applied by the BVI’s courts, except to the extent that they have been modified by statute. This is the case as a result of the Common Law (Declaration of Application) Act and the Supreme Court Associated States (Virgin Islands) Act.

English and Commonwealth decisions such as that in Pugachev and the Webb v Webb case to which we refer below are not binding on the courts of the BVI, but they may be regarded as persuasive authority in relation to issues involving the relevant principles of English common law and equity which would be applied by the BVI’s courts, i.e. in the absence of any statutory modification of those principles, involve a two-fold analysis.

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Chambers Global Practice Guides: Enforcement of Judgments 2023 – British Virgin Islands

O’Neal Webster Senior Partner Paul B. Dennis, K.C., Senior Associate Asha Johnson-Willins, and Associate Paul Edwards contributed the British Virgin Islands chapter to Chambers Global Practice Guide: Enforcement of Judgments 2023 Law & Practice.

A judgment that cannot be enforced is of little or no value. It is therefore important for those involved in commercial disputes to understand, before embarking on legal proceedings, where an opponent’s assets are located, what judicial assistance (if any) will be available in locating assets against which to enforce and the process for enforcement.

Link here to view an excerpt and the table of contents and to download the British Virgin Islands chapter for both foreign and domestic judgments.

BVI Statutory Mergers: A valuable tool for business combinations and restructurings globally

The BVI statutory merger process is recognized globally and has been used effectively for many years. However, today, more global entities increasingly use BVI statutory mergers in high-value cross-border transactions. This shift substantiates the BVI’s corporate regime, which is valued for its ample flexibility in facilitating cross-border business combinations and restructurings, supporting the evolution of businesses over time.

The statutory nature of the BVI merger process provides certainty regarding the exchange of shares, other securities, assets and liabilities, which are critical elements in most business combinations and restructurings. As such, the BVI remains an essential jurisdiction in the mergers and acquisitions market for small, medium and global players. To learn more about how BVI statutory mergers work, link here.

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