BVI Commercial Court Functioning Seamlessly

Venue: Hong Kong

Hong Kong, October 13, 2017 - Speaking at this week’s Cross Border Litigation Day, chairman of the conference and senior offshore lawyer, Ian Mann, told more than 200 attendees that the BVI’s Commercial Court is running efficiently following Hurricane Irma. Mann also encouraged delegates to have confidence that the industry is carrying on with business as usual.

The inaugural conference, organised by international offshore law firm Harneys, was held on Wednesday, 11 October at Thomson Reuters’ Hong Kong office.  

Mann, who heads Harneys' Asia Litigation and Restructuring Practice, said that the firm had conducted a multitude of hearings in the BVI Court sitting in St Lucia during the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. This included directions hearings, applications for injunctions and Norwich Pharmacals and petitions to wind up companies.

“We even have a trial starting shortly,” said Mann. He added that “hearings had been efficiently run by the Court staff, with particular emphasis on ensuring that telephone hearings were available, as well as allowing parties to attend in person.”

Mann highlighted a particular feature of the interim measures which allows parties to file documents electronically, easing the burden on the Courts and practitioners considerably.

“The Chief Justice, her judiciary and the Court staff are to be roundly congratulated for their fortitude in a natural disaster, their resilience in the immediate aftermath, and their helpfulness going forward. We also thank our fellow practitioners for their sense of comradery and community spirit in these difficult times,” said Mann.  

Echoing Mann’s statement, Philip Jones QC mentioned that he recently had a telephone hearing in the BVI Court sitting in St Lucia. “I can most certainly confirm that the Court is functioning highly efficiently,” said Jones, “the arrangements leading up to the hearing, including filing papers by email, appeared to me to be seamless. In some ways, the interim arrangements allowing for electronic service make the Court process more efficient than before.”

Jones told the conference that he had discussed the new arrangements at the conclusion of the hearing with Justice Wallbank. “Justice Wallbank expressed his desire that the world should know that the BVI Court is ‘back in business’. I agree,” he added.

Attendees were introduced to the latest trends in cross border litigation from a panel of senior professionals, including five silks (Queen’s counsels) and 12 industry leading solicitors from Hong Kong and London. Topics covered included valuation, shareholder disputes, choosing a jurisdiction to sue, restructuring, tracing offshore assets in high value divorces, and what makes a good advocate.

Director of BVI House Asia, Elise Donovan, who was invited by Mann to address the conference on the status of the BVI, spoke of the industry’s business continuity and resilience and thanked the Hong Kong business community for their strong support for the BVI.

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