Book review: British Virgin Islands Commercial Law, second edition

Sunday, 01 December 2013
Rosemary Marr TEP, reviews the second edition of the book: British Virgin Islands Commercial Law, by Harney Westwood & Riegels.

With a population of fewer than 30,000, the BVI certainly punches above its weight in terms of the quality of its financial services industry and the legislation and regulation that underpin it. The continued popularity of this jurisdiction as an international finance centre (IFC) is in part due to the commitment of key players in the public and private sector. One such key player is Harneys: the firm has been involved with the development of the BVI’s finance sector for more than 50 years.

To maintain their attractiveness, it is vital for IFCs to keep pace with the rapid changes in the global economy and the demands of businesses and people who choose to use the services on offer. At the same time, the rapidly changing legal and regulatory environment poses challenges.

It is in the face of this evolving and increasingly competitive landscape that Harneys has written and had published (by Sweet & Maxwell) the second edition of British Virgin Islands Commercial Law. I have to say that I was surprised to learn that the first edition was published only in 2012, but this is perhaps understandable when noting the major changes to company law that have taken place and the revisions introduced with the passing of the BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act 2012 and the accompanying Companies Regulations 2012 – not to mention further major developments to other pertinent laws in 2012.

With 450,000 active companies on its company register at 30 June 2013,1 the BVI’s importance as a corporate domicile for current and future users cannot be understated. The measures that have been introduced recognise this, and the rationale behind them is to keep the jurisdiction at the forefront of corporate legislative developments. Bearing this in mind, I found chapter 2, which deals with company law, of particular interest. After reading this chapter I was prompted to dip into chapter 5 (financial services law), as well as chapters dealing with trusts (chapter 9), and taxation and information exchange in tax matters (chapter 12).

I have visited the BVI only once, and that trip was to Road Town, Tortola. My stay was brief and work related, with just time enough to experience some warm hospitality and take in the wonderful scenery. If, like me, you are keen to learn about places you are about to visit or have visited, especially when combining business with a small amount of pleasure, the introduction to this book is also a worthwhile read. On the whole, this well constructed and comprehensive textbook, packed into 735 pages, will be a valuable resource for any firm or organisation that needs to know about BVI commercial law.

Sweet & Maxwell, Hong Kong
Author: Harney Westwood & Riegels
ISBN: 9789626614792

  • 1. BVI Financial Services Commission Statistical Bulletin, Q2 2013
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Rosemary Marr

Rosemary Marr TEP is Vice President of STEP and Senior Trust Director at NedGroup Trust (Jersey) Ltd.

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