The fifth annual BVI Arbitration Week kicked off with a roundtable discussion (above) on arbitration related to construction in the Caribbean. (Photo: BVIIAC)

Construction, oil and gas, renewable energy and fintech were among the Caribbean industries that topped the discussion agenda last week during the fifth annual BVI Arbitration Week.

The five-day event kicked off March 11 with a “Caribbean construction arbitration roundtable” featuring industry experts and other stakeholders, according to the BVI International Arbitration Centre, which hosted the activities.

The next day featured a panel discussion themed “Fintech Regulations and Disputes.”

During that session, which was moderated by BVI Finance CEO Elise Donovan, experts focused on cryptocurrency and fintech regulation in the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.

Panelists included arbitrators from several firms, as well as Glenford Malone, deputy managing director of regulation at the BVI Financial Services Commission.

Fintech keynote

The same day, Deputy Premier Lorna Smith delivered a keynote speech focusing on fintech and blockchain trends in the Caribbean.

Describing the territory as a “global digital assets hub,” she recounted a history of the development of digital assets business here and the “guardrails” that she said the territory is putting in place to regulate the sector.

“We in the BVI are conscious that the emergence of the digital assets business sector signifies a revolutionary shift in the financial world, one in which we aim to play a critical role,” she said. “However, we also recognise that like all revolutions, it will only succeed if the new ideas, services and products which emerge are balanced with the robust rule of law.”

She added that she is “delighted” that the territory has so far received more than 60 applications under the Virtual Asset Service Providers Act 2022, which came into force in February 2023.

Memorial lecture

Activities continued March 13, when the Dr. J.S. Archibald QC Memorial Lecture was delivered by David Huebner, a former United States ambassador to New Zealand who has handled more than 300 arbitrations around the world in his 30-year career in arbitration.

Mr. Huebner spoke on “Challenges to Our Status Quo: Adapting Arbitration to a Changing World.”

The lecture was followed by a cocktail reception.

Other events during the week included a debate session led by Arbitrator Philip “Whit” Engle on the question, “Is there an obligation to disclose close relationships between co-arbitrators?”