Managing Partner: Vanessa King
Number of partners: 7
Number of lawyers: 11
Total number of staff: 32
O’Neal Webster holds a decidedly unique position among BVI law firms, being among the first to establish exclusively in the territory to serve clients’ onshore and offshore corporate, finance, banking, business, property, admiralty, and trust and estate needs since 1989. Providing legal advice and representation of the highest quality to a broad client base, including leading business enterprises, financial institutions, law firms, trust companies, investment houses, corporations, and high net worth individuals, the firm is highly respected for its expert handling of transactional, regulatory, and adversarial matter. Versatile and accessible, the firm’s lawyers provide sound, practical advice and prompt service from its offices in Tortola, BVI; London, UK; and New York City, US.
The firm is the exclusive, BVI member of Lex Mundi and the World Services Group.
Main Areas of Practice:
Litigation & Dispute Resolution:
Queens Counsel Paul Dennis leads the firm’s litigation practice, which handles complex, contentious cross-border and domestic commercial, insolvency, probate, and admiralty matters. The team has earned a reputation for excellence in finding innovative legal strategies for difficult or unique facts. Members appear before all levels of the local and regional courts, including the UK Privy Council and the Commercial Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which sits in Tortola—a great asset to BVI registered companies in facilitating the efficient resolution of commercial cases in the BVI system.
Banking & Finance:
Led by Managing Partner Vanessa King, the banking and finance practice counts major international and domestic banks and trust companies, including the only BVI-based financial institution, among its prestigious client base. Services include advising on borrower due diligence and the corporate capacity of borrowers, preparing documents for borrowers in order to satisfy corporate structure requirements to meet financing terms, preparing finance documents, and attending to the completion of transactions at closings, including payment of stamp duty and registration of security documentation.
Investment Funds & Regulatory:
BVI funds legislation provides a flexible, user-friendly and widely-recognised framework for the establishment of collective investment vehicles. Led by Partner Kerry Anderson, the funds team has essential relationships in the BVI regulatory community which add value to the advice they offer investment fund and regulated business clients. Lawyers advise asset managers; promoters; public, private, and professional funds; and other industry participants in the structuring and restructuring of BVI funds and in regulatory compliance issues affecting funds, including recently added fund types targeted for start-up companies, the BVI Incubator Fund and the BVI Approved Fund, and crypto currency ICOs. Lawyers handle general investment fund applications, as well as complex licensing applications under the BVI’s Financing and Money Services Act, Securities and Invest-ment Business Act, and the Bank and Trust Companies Act. Notably, they have obtained BVI licenses for the only group of foreign funds to offer services in the BVI and helped one of only three money service providers in the BVI to get a license, and continue to provide ongoing advice. Also, they recently guided a client in obtaining licensing for the provision of Forex business, a tightly regulated activity by the BVI Financial Services Commission.
Corporate & Commercial:
Team members possess broad and deep experience in international and local corporate and commercial transactions, including advising on stock exchange listings, private equity transactions, joint ventures, redomiciliations, corporate arrangements, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, corporate restructuring, and related aspects of corporate and commercial law. Led by Partner Christopher Simpson, the team is regularly instructed by top financial institutions, law firms, trust companies, investment houses, and corporations on high value commercial transactions and company formation. They have a reputation for providing quality advice and finding creative solutions.
Trusts & Estates:
The trusts and estates department, under the leadership of Chambers HNW guide-ranked Christopher McKenzie, provides practical commercial advice on all aspects of BVI trusts law, whether clients seek to take advantage of cutting-edge legislation by utilising a VISTA trust or wish to adopt a more standard structure. The team advises trustees (individuals and corporations) and beneficiaries on issues such as wealth protection, probate planning, trust creation, administration, and termination. Clients also receive seamless access to litigation specialists in trust disputes and contentious probate matters.
The firm is a BVI licensed trademark agent and manages the largest IP portfolio in the jurisdiction. Its team is equipped to handle trademark, patent, and other IP matters, both large and small, providing quality service with fast turnaround. The firm is known for its expertise in processing significant transactions involving large trademark portfolio acquisitions in a chain of title. The firm’s experienced litigators handle contentious trademark cases in the BVI.
Real Estate, Business & Admiralty:
The firm’s real estate team, led by Managing Associate Jenelle Archer, draws on their considerable experience in BVI land laws, which are unique and specific. They represent clients in residential and commercial purchases and sales and work with them through all phases of development, including corporate structuring, financing, title verification, planning, design approval, and construction.
Thanks to a strong working relationship with relevant government agencies and entities, the firm has a thriving and long-standing track record in negotiating licenses and permits for a range of development enterprises, including the tourism sector, and others in real estate acquisition, planning, construction, and sales.
A seasoned admiralty and shipping registration team serves international clients in navigating the advantages and nuances of BVI ship registry law, as well as vessel purchase, financing, operation, and sale.
The BVI’s reputation as a premier sailing destination makes it an attractive choice for the registration of vessels and is a full category 1 REG Registry, capable of registering pleasure and commercial craft of any type, size, and tonnage. There is no VAT or other levy imposed except for the registration fee. Attorneys are equipped to handle all contentious admiralty matters in litigation or arbitration.
The firm serves international clients in BVI law and crossborder matters, including other law firms, professional services companies, and high net worth individuals. Attorneys are frequently instructed for transactions and advice in trusts, trademarks, funds, stock exchange listings, and property, and for resolving related contentious disputes.