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As a leading incorporation jurisdiction, with something in the region of 400,000 active registered companies holding many billions of dollars in assets, the ease with which arbitral awards may be enforced in the BVI can be a matter of vital importance to those engaged in dispute resolution.
The BVI Arbitration Act 2013 came into force on 1 October 2014, following the BVI acceding to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). The Act is modelled on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985), with amendments as adopted in 2006, so arbitration practitioners will be familiar with the general principles of enforcement.
The BVI Commercial Court has to date adopted a pragmatic and pro-enforcement stance towards enforcement, while also fairly applying the established principles under the New York Convention. The beneficiary of a convention award may readily enforce it in the BVI applying the well-established passport principles of enforcement. Similarly, a respondent may avail themselves of standard convention defences to enforcement. Under the Arbitration Act, nonconvention awards may also be enforced in the BVI. Defences against enforcement are the same as those for convention awards, but additionally, the court may refuse enforcement on the broader ground that it considers it just.
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Enforcement of Arbitral Awards in the British Virgin Islands: Procedures and Options