A new British Virgin Islands International Arbitration Centre (“BVI IAC”) was launched on 16 November 2016. This arbitration institution describes itself as an “independent not-for-profit institution” that was created to provide a “neutral, impartial, efficient and reliable dispute resolution institution in the Caribbean, Latin America and beyond.”
It was only on 25 May 2014 that the British Virgin Islands became a Party to the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958. Although there have been many arbitrations with parties from the British Virgin Islands, prior to this date the British Virgin Islands themselves were a poor choice for resolving disputes, as arbitral awards that were rendered with a seat in the British Virgin Islands could not be easily enforced in the other 155 States that are Parties to the New York Convention.
The BVI IAC was established under the British Virgin Islands Arbitration Act (“Act”) of 2013, which came into force on 1 October 2014, and was “designed to bring the modern principles and practices of arbitration to the BVI and aims to establish a fair, efficient and flexible legal frame work within which to resolve disputes.” The Act of 2013 was largely inspired by the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.
The British Virgin Islands International Arbitration Center will be chaired by Arbitrator John Beechey CBE, along with Mr. Cherno Jallow, QC, as deputy chairman. In addition, the BVI IAC Board includes five members appointed by Cabinet. The members are Mr. John Beechey (Chairman), Mr. Cherno Jallow, QC (Deputy Chairman), Mr. Mark Forte (member), Mr. Murray Smith (member) and Ms. Felice Swapp (member).
Around 200 practitioners will be involved in the BVI IAC as potential arbitrators, to conduct arbitrations in several languages including English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. The center aims to be versatile and efficient, and to welcome all types of arbitration disputes in the region.
The BVI IAC will be administered under its own arbitration rules (established on the same day, 16 November 2016, found below) and will provide facilities and services for the resolution of arbitration and mediation proceedings. The British Virgin Islands Arbitration Center will provide administrative support to the parties and arbitral tribunals throughout arbitration and mediation.