BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
COURT OF APPEAL
This important decision by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal in BVIHCMAP 2016/0031 John Shrimpton and Another -v- Dominic Scriven and Others on recoverability of foreign lawyers’ fees, confirms that the Court’s previous decision in BVIHCMAP 2015/0010 Dimitry Vladimirovich Garkusha -v- Ashot Yegiazaryan and Others, which concluded that the common law right to recover foreign lawyers’ fees as a disbursement of local counsel in the circumstances of that case had been abrogated, was not per incuriam. In the recent decision, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the common law right to recover fees of overseas lawyers who are not registered in the BVI and are “acting as a legal practitioner” was abrogated by the operation of Section 18(3) of the Legal Professions Act (“LPA”) and the decision in Garkusha is binding.
The consequence of this for non-BVI admitted lawyers is that their fees for advising and acting (otherwise “practicing”) in BVI matters without providing any legal input from another jurisdiction that is necessary, reasonable and incapable of being provided by BVI lawyers, will render those fees non-recoverable. There is perhaps an argument to be made for the interpretation of what amounts to “practicing”, but only further case law or an amended LPA can put beyond doubt. Professional and lay clients can no longer expect to “post box” BVI input and recover those costs. The position reaffirms the need for experienced BVI admitted legal practitioners providing valuable input on international matters. Conyers’ tier one litigation team remains among the best placed to provide that service on a costs-recoverable basis.
To read the full judgment, please click here.