International law firm Withers has been engaged by the Government of the Virgin Islands (BVI) to advise on a legal challenge to any attempt by the United Kingdom to impose a public register of beneficial ownership through an Order in Council.
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act received Royal Assent on 23 May 2018 and contains a provision which purports to mandate the imposition of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories (including the BVI) by 31 December 2020.
Withers is advising the BVI Government alongside Leading Counsel Professor Dan Sarooshi QC of Essex Court Chambers and the University of Oxford and eminent BVI constitutional lawyer Gerard Farara QC.
Hussein Haeri, partner and head of Withers' Public International Law team, comments: “We are confident that there are constitutional grounds for challenging the imposition on the BVI of a public register of the beneficial ownership of companies and human rights issues raised by public access to the register. The BVI's consistent position is that it will not introduce public registers unless and until they become a global standard.”