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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Virgin Islands Shipping Registry to Become a Statutory Body

The Virgin Islands Shipping and Maritime Authority Act, 2023 successfully received assent on October 16, 2023. It is now imminent that The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry will become independent of the Central Government of the Virgin Islands and carry out its operations as a statutory body.

The Act is the culmination of many years of hard work and will allow for the realization of a long-established goal of the Shipping Registry. As a statutory body, the Shipping Registry will now have greater autonomy in making decisions that generate revenue, facilitate growth, and expand its services in keeping with international maritime community demands and market trends.

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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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O’Neal Webster is pleased to announce that Managing Partner Vanessa King has been elected a STEP Worldwide Council representative for the Caribbean and Latin America Region.

In this role, she represents the interests of thousands of STEP members across multiple jurisdictions, including the BVI, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman, Bermuda, Nevis, Anguilla, Saint Lucia, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and elsewhere. STEP (formerly Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) is a global professional body with more than 21,000 members in 100 countries comprised of lawyers, accountants, trustees and other practitioners that sets and upholds high standards, informs public policy, promotes education and connects practitioners globally to share knowledge and best practices in estate planning and related disciplines.

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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.

We are delighted to announce that O’Neal Webster’s Corporate, Banking, and Funds practices and three partners have been recognized by IFLR1000, Financial and Corporate in its 2023 edition for the British Virgin Islands.

Managing Partner Vanessa King is ranked “Highly Regarded” for her work in capital markets, banking, and M&A; Kerry Anderson is “Highly Regarded” in the practices of banking and M&A; and Christopher Simpson is “Highly Regarded” for investment funds and banking. 

IFLR1000 evaluates law firms and lawyers by practice area within a jurisdiction on the basis of transactional evidence by how complex or challenging the work is or whether there was any innovation involved in the deal or its structuring.

Kerry Anderson speaks at British Virgin Islands Government trade mission to Guyana.

BVI Trade Mission to Guyana

O’Neal Webster is pleased that our partner Kerry Anderson was able to join a diverse, 17 member delegation on a trade mission to Guyana from 30 July to 4 August 2023, initiated by The Government of the British Virgin Islands, represented by Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade, the Hon. Lorna Smith, OBE. This trade mission is comprised of delegates from the BVI financial services industry and various business sectors, as the public and private sector seek ways to increase engagement between the two countries.

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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