Harneys and Harneys Fiduciary Post Hurricane Irma - FAQs27/09/2017
1. Is it really business as usual?
?Absolutely. Our BVI office has reopened. We also have BVI qualified lawyers and experienced company administrators and trust officers in all of our major locations outside of the BVI so we are in all senses operational. We are confident that we can respond quickly and comprehensively to client queries in our usually timely, commercial and solution oriented manner.
2. I am used to dealing with “X”– will they still be able to assist me?
Many of our staff from our BVI office have been evacuated from the Islands and relocated to one of our other offices in the Caribbean, London or Asia or to a destination from which they can continue to work remotely.
We have state of the art documentation and communication systems that allow our lawyers and other staff to work effectively from wherever they are in the world. A particular lawyer may need a few days to get themselves and their families settled but in the meantime, your matter will be handled professionally and efficiently by one of their colleagues. Harneys has a truly collegiate atmosphere and teamwork is key amongst those we recruit.
3. I need to incorporate a BVI company – can I still do so?
Absolutely. The BVI Financial Services Commission re-opened the Registry of Corporate Affairs on 12 September 2017 and, most importantly, its online company registration portal VIRRGIN so we are able to file incorporation documents, register charges, merger documents in the same manner as always.
The key difference at the moment is that it is taking a little longer to obtain confirmation of incorporations/registrations where approvals are required due to the skeleton staff in operations at the BVI FSC. We will continue to update on progress. Importantly, for our commitment to on-going compliance with international reporting standards, the BVI’s beneficial ownership information portal (BOSSs) was unaffected by the hurricane and is also operational.
4. Have systems and data been kept secure?
Our IT systems remained secure throughout the passage of the storm. Although secure back-ups of all data were available, all original databases are in use.
5. I need a BVI Legal Opinion for a pending transaction – what about conducting public searches?
All searches will be conducted via email, which should be sent to E. firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject heading must include HIGH COURT SEARCH. Responses will be sent by email within two hours. It is expected that full service will resume shortly.
6. We have a Commercial Court hearing scheduled over the next few weeks/months – will it still go ahead?
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court announced the temporary re-location of the Commercial Division of the High Court to Saint Lucia and the Judges of the Commercial Division began hearing matters on Monday 25 September 2017. Documents may be filed electronically and there are comprehensive guidelines for practitioners in this respect.
7. What about other Court Registry Services? Apostilling of documents, probate services etc.?
Apostille services resumed with effect from 27 September. Probate services will resume shortly.
8. What is the long term view for the Financial Services sector in the BVI?
We have seen the Cayman Islands following Hurricane Ivan in 2004 recover and flourish as a financial services jurisdiction and major offshore centre and we see no reason for the case to be any different for the BVI.
The BVI Government has already made significant and important progress in re-establishing critical business systems and facilities, which will be crucial in the sector’s continued recovery.
We are confident that the BVI as a key offshore financial services centre will rebound and continue to be an exciting, innovative and solutions orientated jurisdiction. Harneys fully intends to be at the forefront of these developments.
9. How is Harneys working with the BVI Government to aid recovery?
We and others from the private sector are working hard to provide support, communications and practical help to ensure our own staff and the people of the BVI and the jurisdiction recover as quickly as possible.
We, together with the BVI Government, are working hard to establish and support the enormous humanitarian relief effort required to support the people of the BVI at this time.
As a leading professional services business, we are absolutely committed to doing what we can to minimise the disruption caused to the BVI’s business sector following the hurricane.
10. How can I help?
If you would like to support the BVI humanitarian relief efforts, the firm is contributing to the Virgin Unite Relief Appeal and the British Red Cross Hurricane Irma Appeal.