Public Register: BVI Government to proceed cautiously


The perceived constitutional overreach by the United Kingdom is still a matter of concern for Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith; however, the BVI Leader noted that addressing the matter should be done in a certain manner.

The Premier explained during a press briefing on 29 August that ‘from a hypothetical sense’ there are grounds to challenge the United Kingdom’s Public Register for Beneficial Ownership 2020 promptings. However, Hon. Smith hinted that he will not rush blindly into a dedicated response.

It has been some months since the BVI has been mulling the consequences of the December 2020 deadline, and the possible level of the fallout from such.

Closely following the decision the Premier did announce that Government hired Senior Partner of Collas Crill, Gerard St. C. Farara, QC, and WithersWorldwide and leading counsel Dan Sarooshi QC of Essex Court Chambers and Professor of Law at Oxford University to provide guidance on possible legal actions.

Albeit time has passed since the government retained counsel, the Premier has announced that no firm commitment has been made in relations to a course of action. In fact, Dr. Smith told the media: “All I can say at this point in time is it is one of the things that we are considering that is why we have hired and gotten legal counsel to give us an opinion. We have to look at all options opened to us and of course we have to look at the overarching principle which is to ensure the survival and the continued prosperity of the BVI and whether that means having discussions which lead to an outcome that is favorable to the BVI or it means a legal challenge. That is something that we are looking into seriously.”

The Premier added: “Sometimes it’s not best to rush into things, it has to be carefully considered and determine what is the next course of action…In all things it is best to consider your moves wisely before you move forward.”

As would be expected the Premier has been tight lipped about the legal advise from the counsels. In fact, even attempts to extract details during the House of Assembly has yielded little results. The most recent attempt was made by Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser during the 19 July sitting of the House of Assembly.

However, little was said as Hon. Smith explained that information relating to the legal matter or lawyers, including information about the fees, might affect the case.

The BVI Leader announced, “Madame Speaker I am not in a position to answer the question about the legal fees as it relates to the challenge at this time…We are not going to repeat anything that will prejudice the conduct of this matter and for this reason I am not going to answer the question about fees.”