In a speech recently reported by BVI News, Mr. Justice Barry Leon, a Commercial Court judge sitting in the BVI High Court, part of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, has offered a number of suggested improvements for that jurisdiction:
“We can contribute more to the territory’s economy – financially and otherwise – both directly and more importantly indirectly. In the new reality of international commercial dispute resolution, we must do so.
Our goal, in my view, should be to enhance and expand BVI as a primary Global Commercial Dispute Resolution Centre of choice. And, as not infrequently we are called upon to support proceedings in other jurisdictions, we should have a wide range of judicial tools and resources in the Commercial Court for those purposes…
We are competing with commercial courts in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Cayman, Bermuda and elsewhere. Those courts in many cases are well-resourced, and are increasingly innovative. We are at a time where we have an opportunity to take the BVI Commercial Court to a new and higher level. The opportunity is now“.
Mr. Justice Leon, who has a background in arbitration, offered 10 suggested improvements in his speech:
“1. An expanded jurisdictional mandate to bring more commercial disputes work to the territory, by legislative changes, by changes to the Court’s procedural rules, and by contract
2. Procedural innovations: enabling parties to have a greater say on a case by case basis in the processes by which their disputes are resolved in the Commercial Court, adapting from other dispute resolution mechanisms – most notably international commercial arbitration
3. Adopting international standards and practices for the conduct of international litigation in the territory by enabling non-BVI legal practitioners to be involved appropriately, as they are in major litigation centres around the world
4. Establishing at least financial self-sufficiency of the Commercial Court, if not profitability
5. Institutionalizing enhanced levels of service to parties and their legal practitioners
6. Making available third party financing of litigation in the Territory
7. Legislating needed mechanisms for the enforcement of court orders
8. Expanding recognition of foreign insolvency office holders
9. Engaging in cooperation and coordination with other commercial courts around the world under new transparent arrangements that are on the horizon, and
10. Importantly, establishing a sound programme for the advancement of BVIslanders in commercial legal matters, both contentious and non-contentious, with the support and involvement of the legal and related communities in the territory.”