(Photo Credit: Khari Adams)
I say a pleasant Good morning to members of the Board of the BVI International Arbitration Centre, the team here at the Arbitration Centre and other honoured guests.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this second BVI International Arbitration Conference as we raise our gaze and explore the next horizon for arbitration.
Let me begin by commending the organisers, Business BVI and its sponsors, Conyers, 4 New Square, Harneys and Simonette Lewis, as well as the BVI International Arbitration Centre and the BVI Bar association for their diligence in planning this week of events and this conference.
I would also like to thank the partners of this conference: the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (BVI Chapter), Young ICCA, Arbitral Women and the BVI Tourist Board, as well as the Media partners: TDM OGEMID and the Global Arbitration Review for their role in making this week so valuable.
I wish to seize the occasion to extend a very warm welcome to all the speakers and delegates who have come from different parts of the world to attend this prestigious conference. I am pleased to see so many of you gathered here to celebrate and advance the field of international arbitration.
Similarly, I am also delighted to see our local community practitioners today, as, without any doubt, none of this would have been achieved without their support.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the presentations by Sir Dennis and Mr. John Beechy, and as I listened I understood why they are at the top of their professions and so highly regarded around the world. They have placed arbitration in context for BVI, and given us a glimpse of what is possible.
And in so doing have also made us more appreciative of the vision and work of our own Dr. J.S. Archibald as he prepared us for this journey
Our jurisdiction is fully supportive of arbitration, not just in the BVI, but in the region and beyond – In addition to building a modern jurisdiction for arbitration, we aim to provide a platform, here in the BVI, for interested parties everywhere to develop their skillset and learn more about arbitration. We will continue to do so, persistently.
I hope you have had the opportunity to attend some, if not all of the numerous workshops and talks that have taken place this past week in the BVI.
We are very pleased that six years after the Arbitration Focus Group was established, we have now created a new industry for the BVI.
Here we are: we have added arbitration to our world-class offering as a dispute resolution jurisdiction in the Caribbean.
We also recognise that any arbitral institution needs access to a strong supervisory court, and I would like to take this opportunity to assure you of my government’s commitment to supporting our courts.
We will continue to ensure that they are equipped to provide world-class service to all users.
You see, we are committed to taking the needed steps to diversify and strengthen our economy and our commitment to facilitate the resolution of international disputes is unyielding. And, this includes review of our immigration and labour policies, and the resolution of our air access challenges. You are right Mr. Beechy, removing that one stop in the passage to the BVI, I am convinced will make a great difference.
We have come a long way in a very short time:
Here we are today, enjoying the brand new IAC facilities which, it is my hope, meet, if not beat your expectations.
My Government supports arbitration, and we clearly understand the critical requirement for independence of the institution.
We will be making the BVI the international dispute resolution centre of choice, with the same determination that has made us the financial services jurisdiction of choice. In so doing, we would continue to secure a better future for all living and working in our Virgin Islands.
We recognise and support the dynamic, fundamental synergy between the international arbitration sector and the international business sector and I have no doubt that the BVI International Arbitration Centre will become a popular and much-used part of our Territory’s international offering.
This is the start of a great adventure and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve our goals. Commitment, endurance, integrity and a clear vision is what make us different from the rest.
On behalf of the Government and people of the BVI, I wish the Board and the staff of the arbitration centre continued success. You will continue to have my Government’s wholehearted support.
As Minister of Tourism, I do hope you will find the time to enjoy the sites and sounds of the BVI outside of the IAC as well.
I wish you all a productive conference. Thank you.