Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, then the president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, delivers the keynote speech in June 2017 during the territory’s second International Arbitration Week at the BVI International Arbitration Centre. The centre’s “incubation period” was recently extended an additional five years through 2026. (File photo: CONOR KING DEVITT)

The BVI International Arbitration Centre opened its doors in 2016, and it was supposed to become financially independent after being financed and overseen by the Financial Services Commission for a five-year “incubation period.”

But the centre struggled to attract clients amid challenges including hurricanes and Covid-19, and it still hasn’t reached that goal nearly seven years later.

Recently, however, it got a reprieve. Cabinet decided on Feb. 15 to extend the centre’s incubation period to Dec. 31, 2026, according to a meeting summary released by the Cabinet Office on March 30.


In the meantime, the centre will continue to be financed and overseen by the FSC, the Cabinet decided on Feb. 15.

“Unfortunately, the BVIIAC was unable to become financially independent within the initial five-year incubation period as early momentum was lost as a result of the impacts of first Hurricane Irma and then the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to an April 11 statement from the Ministry of Finance.

“The BVIIAC will remain an independent body, operating within its statutes and the terms of the Arbitration Act. The government of the Virgin Islands will continue to have oversight but no direct control over its operations or management.”

More time

The extension is designed to provide the centre more time to “meet the rapidly evolving dispute-resolution needs” of users in the Caribbean, the Americas and further abroad, the ministry explained.

After the extended incubation period, the ministry added, the BVIIAC shouldn’t need financial support from the FSC. The centre — a non-profit statutory body that operates independently of government — recently got new leadership after founding CEO Francois Lassalle stepped down.

He and BVIIAC registrar Hana Doumal, who served from January 2021, were both replaced by new CEO Shan Greer in January.