Most Welcomed Arbitration Act Comes Into Force

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The lauded BVI Arbitration Act, which is expected to usher in a modern era for the Territory in domestic and international arbitration, or dispute settling in the British Virgin Islands came into force this week on October 1.

The legislation strenghtens the Territory’s position as a thriving commercial centre where commercial disputes are resolved by an efficient court system. The O’Neal Webster law firm spoke highly of the act which they say defines a modern approach. In explaining the relevance of the legislation it was stated: in order to cope with the increased volume of commercial litigation the Territory established a specialized commercial court dedicated to dealing with high value and complex commercial matters. While there has been no shortage of commercial litigation, in recent times, there has been a noted trend towards arbitration as a means of resolving commercial disputes.”

Arbitration legislation is not new to the Territory. In fact the original legislation was the 1976 Arbitration Ordinance (Cap.6) which experts stated was in dire need of revision because it was inadequate to deal with modern international arbitration.

Many of the operators in the industry publicly communicated their support when it was noted on January 23, 2014 that the long anticipated Arbitration Act, 2013 (“the 2013 Act”) which makes provision for the conduct of both domestic and international commercial arbitration was published in the Virgin Islands Official Gazette, and was announced that it would come into force by proclamation of the Governor of the Virgin Islands on October 1, 2014.

Most noted by the local law firm is the objectives of the Act which are outlined in Section 3 of the legislation, and says that the law is meant to: “Facilitate and obtain fair and speedy resolution of disputes without unnecessary delay or expense.”

“It gives high priority to the arbitration process, providing that, subject only to the public interest, the right of the parties to determine the manner of resolution of their dispute is to be honoured. The 2013 Act strictly limits the circumstances in which the BVI Court may interfere in the arbitration of a dispute to those expressly stated in the 2013 Act. Additionally, even where the Court is compelled to interfere, it must, as far as possible, give due regard to the wishes of the parties and the provisions of the arbitration agreement,” O’Neal Webster law firm noted.

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