The British Virgin Islands has opened a new Commercial Court which will specialise in cross-border commercial and insolvency matters. In two ceremonies earlier this month, the government of the BVI formally opened the court and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) for its operation and administration.

Head of Litigation at Harneys Phillip Kite welcomed the development and said that it comes at a time when the volume of commercial litigation and insolvency is increasing in the BVI. He said that the addition of a dedicated commercial court will add to the already strong commercial jurisprudence of the BVI.

The new commercial court is a division of the regional ECSC and will hear commercial matters from nine Caribbean nations and territories, including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the British Virgin Islands. It is expected, however, that much of the court’s calendar will be taken up with matters stemming from the more than 800,000 companies that have been incorporated in the BVI since the advent of its international finance centre in the 1980s.

Edward Bannister QC has been appointed the Court’s first presiding judge. Justice Bannister previously specialised in company, insolvency and commercial litigation at 3 Stone Buildings in London.