Prior to the impact of COVID-19, effect of service of a claim form or other document on a BVI Business Company was attained by the physical delivery of service at the company’s registered office or registered agent’s office.
On 23 March 2020, the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice Periera, issued a Practice Direction (now in its second re-issue) which provides that a claim form or other document may be served on a BVI Company by sending it via email to the registered office or registered agent of that company in lieu of physical delivery. Documents served via email are now as effective as if they had been hand delivered.
What email address can be used to effect service on a BVI Business Company?
The email address which may be used to effect service upon a BVI Business Company is that which was notified in writing by that company or its registered agent for the purpose of receiving service of documents. However, if no such notification was given, service may be validly effected upon that company by sending the claim form or other document to:
- The email address used or previously used on the letterhead of the company or its registered agent;
- The email address given on the website of that company or its registered agent; or
- The email address of the general mailbox of that company or its registered agent.
These changes will be in effect until the Chief Justice so directs.
What steps should registered agents take to comply with the new measures?
Most agents have familiar processes for documents that are served by hand; typically, checking that services are provided to the company in question, asking the relevant administrator to receive service, and then endorsing the cover letter (and taking a copy) as evidence of service. Often, that process also involves a central registry of documents served by messenger.
The new service rules might require an adjustment to those established processes. In particular, agents should have a process to ensure that general mailboxes are checked regularly and that all staff are aware that service might occur through their inbox.
Agents might also consider the following:
- Advise clients of the Practice Direction and the new manner in which documents may be served.
- Designate a particular email address for accepting service of documents on behalf of its companies, as one designated service address is likely to be easier to monitor than a number, and notify the general public of this address, perhaps by placing that designated email address on its website.
- Ensure that the general email address listed on the website is current, and designate a particular administrator with responsibility for monitoring all incoming emails in its general inbox to make certain that all documents served on a company reach the attention of that company in a timely manner.
- Require staff members to maintain their own log of served documents.
- Where a company anticipates service of proceedings, notify any legal practitioner acting for an adverse party of the particular email address at which service should take place. In addition, note that an executed delivery confirmation form is no longer needed. A registered agent can simply confirm service by confirming receipt of the email sent by the legal practitioner.
Whatever process is established, agents that do not pass on documents to the companies they administer in a timely manner may find themselves liable for losses arising from that failure.
We are here to support you through this difficult time, and will continue to monitor the COVID-19 guidelines from the Court and update you accordingly. We would be happy to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns regarding the foregoing or any issues incidental thereto. If you need to reach us, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or to your relationship attorney, directly.