British Virgin Islands Launches Int'l Arbitration Centre

Law360, New York (November 16, 2016, 1:21 PM EST) -- The British Virgin Islands on Wednesday launched its International Arbitration Centre, an institution the territory hopes will become the regional center of choice for arbitration arising from business activity worldwide.
The BVI International Arbitration Centre will be chaired by John Beechey, the former president of the International Chamber of Commerce's Court of Arbitration, administer arbitrations under its own rules, and offer ad hoc or other institutional arbitration.

Lorna Smith, the interim director of BVI Finance — the public relations firm for the BVI financial services industry, which publicized the opening of the BVIIAC — noted Wednesday that while BVI is already well-regarded as a center for global business and dispute resolution, they are hoping that the center will bolster that image.

"[BVI] is based on a legal system founded upon English common law which will enable us to be a leading jurisdiction providing financial services solutions," she said in a statement. "The launch of the BVI International Arbitration Centre is a pivotal moment for us and underpins our desire to continue to expand the services BVI offers."

The center's CEO will be Francois Lassalle, who previously worked for Dentons in London.

Parties who bring their disputes to the center will be able to nominate their own arbitrators or choose from a roster of arbitrators maintained by the BVIIAC.

As of Wednesday, the center's roster included more than 190 highly regarded international arbitration and dispute resolution practitioners who were drawn from both common law and civil law jurisdictions. These arbitrators will be able to conduct arbitrations in a multitude of languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, French, German and Italian.

The BVIIAC features four new hearing rooms and six breakout rooms, all of which come with state-of-the art technology, including built-in facilities for simultaneous interpretation, court reporting, audio and video conferencing, according to BVI Finance.

The center will provide administrative and concierge services to parties and arbitrators using its facilities, as well as financial administration, logistical and technical support for meetings and hearings, travel arrangements, and general secretarial and linguistic support.

--Editing by Edrienne Su.