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Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Adopts Measures to Ensure Continuity in Response to COVID-19 Impact 

by O

Published: March, 2020

Submission: March, 2020

 



O’Neal Webster hopes that you, your family, your co-workers, and communities are staying healthy and positive during these challenging times. With the surge of the new coronavirus COVID-19 cases around the globe, and now in the Caribbean, all major stakeholders in the British Virgin Islands have taken measures to ensure an efficient and effective transition of business and human resources. We are confident that we will get through this challenge by helping and supporting each other.


BVI Litigation Updates

We want to reach out with a few important litigation updates. Although there are no confirmed cases in the BVI to date, most establishments, including our offices (both locally and internationally), the BVI Government, and now the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), have adopted measures to ensure the continuity and prosperity of industry and commerce.  


For many of our clients who may be anxious about new or existing legal proceedings, the ECSC has recently addressed this concern. As it did during the aftermath of the catastrophic 2017 hurricanes, the ECSC has taken the initiative to process all filings electronically for the foreseeable future. The order was given through a Practice Direction issued by Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira for member states and territories impacted by Covid-19. The Practice Direction which is effective as of March 23, 2020:


  • “(a)  is intended to facilitate the continuation of court proceedings … through the filing, service and disposition, of matters which are not presently available on the E-Litigation Portal of the Court; and
  • (b)  applies to all Civil (including Commercial), Criminal, and Family proceedings before the Supreme Court in the Member States and Territories.”

This initiative provides us, at O’Neal Webster, with the means to conduct our litigation matters seamlessly and to meet our obligations to you, our clients, and the courts with minimal interruptions. It also ensures that the courts here in the BVI and across the region continue to operate effectively, as they did prior to the outbreak. It should be noted that matters set for hearing will be conducted within the required Covid-19 guidelines, with an emphasis on video and teleconferencing systems unless the Court orders otherwise. In such cases, hearings will be limited to counsel and witnesses.


O’Neal Webster Operational Accomodations

Most importantly, we want to let you know that we remain available to talk or meet about your legal work, should that be necessary. We are maintaining our normal business hours, and your current projects are moving forward. As many of you know, we have always made significant investments in technology, including the ability to work remotely. We are taking advantage of this to keep our BVI office fully operational on a shift system, which provides both our staff and clients with exemplary safety and service.  


Operational accommodations include:


  • The capacity to meet with clients by telephone, conference call, and videoconferencing.
  • We ask that you only attend our office for confirmed meetings, and if you are coming in to our office, please know that we are regularly sanitizing our office, diligently washing our hands, sanitizing workspaces, and keeping an eye on our own wellness. 
  • If you call and are unable to reach anyone in person, please send an email to [email protected].
  • Our shift system enables us to maintain social distancing among co-workers and clients, while providing in-house support for all legal needs.

These operational changes will be in effect until further notice.


We are actively monitoring the Covid-19 situation, communicating with other business leaders, listening to the experts, and following our business continuity plan. Just as we endured and exceeded expectations post 2017 hurricanes, while providing excellent care and commitment to our clients, we assure you that, during this time, we intend to do no less.  


We would be happy to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns regarding the foregoing or any issues incidental thereto. We are here to support you through this difficult time and will continue working on your ongoing projects. If you need us, please reach out to us at [email protected], or to your relationship attorney, directly. 


 


O'Neal Webster is a leading offshore law firm in the British Virgin Islands providing superior legal services to clients globally. The firm is a member of Lex Mundi, the world's largest association of independent law firms.


 



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