Remedying the Territory’s air access constraint was listed by Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith as vital to maintaining the BVI’s arbitration sector. In fact the BVI Leader lamented that failure to create ease of access to the jurisdiction can have less than favorable effects on the growing arbitration industry.
While speaking at the event announcing the new BVI/Miami direct flight, Hon. Smith said: “Indeed, our ability to increase the value added component of our financial services sector has also been constrained by air access, and our newly launched Arbitration Center is in jeopardy of being undermined due to the difficulties associated with getting to the BVI.”
Dr. Smith explained that constant demand by citizens and residents for Government to continue to improve the services to the public as well as provide additional services means that Government is required to remain on the proverbial ‘cutting edge’ of new revenue ideas without imposing an undue burden on citizens.
“Notwithstanding, we must, at all reasonable cost, protect the revenue streams that we do have. If that means continuing with the hard work we have been doing in the Financial Services Industry, then that is what we will do,” Premier Smith declared.
The 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 Territory came into force on 1 October.
The legislation consolidates the Territory’s position as a thriving commercial centre where commercial disputes are resolved by an efficient court system.
Arbitration legislations are 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 23 January 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 1 October 2014.
Most prominent objectives of the Act which are outlined in Section three of the legislation, explaining 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.”