In 2023, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Member States implemented significant revisions to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). Under the revised CPR, with effect from 31 July 2023 it would no longer be necessary to apply for permission to serve BVI court proceedings out of the jurisdiction on a foreign defendant. Instead, practitioners themselves could now certify claims as suitable for service out of the jurisdiction, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. The change was considerable, not least given the effective reversal of the onus of challenge and burden of proof on to a foreign defendant.

In early 2024, Justice Wallbank delivered a comprehensive written judgment on issues of jurisdiction and forum in Joint Stock Company BTA Bank v Timur Sabyrbaev and Ors, the latest decision to arise out of the global Ablyazov litigation. The ruling may well be one of the last decisions on service out under the old rules, but it nevertheless offers a thorough review and helpful reminder of the applicable principles when challenging jurisdiction and in ex parte applications more generally.

In this article, Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Restructuring in Conyers’ BVI office, Mark Forte, and Senior Associate Charles Goldblatt outline the issues considered by Justice Wallbank in reaching his decision, from gateways to forum and full and frank disclosure to fair presentation, much of which will remain relevant in the context of applications to challenge jurisdiction under the new rules and in ex parte matters more generally.

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