The BVI Commercial Court Considers Worldwide Freezing Orders in Support of Foreign Proceedings

Walkers acts for a BVI company which successfully defended an application for a worldwide freezing order (the "WFO") sought in support of foreign proceedings.

The Applicant had previously obtained Norwich Pharmacal relief and thereafter applied ex parte to the BVI Commercial Court for the WFO under the Black Swan jurisdiction. The WFO was sought in support of ongoing proceedings in Europe that relate to valuable assets in Western Africa. Walkers argued on behalf of the Respondent that the Court lacked the jurisdiction to make the WFO on the basis that the Applicant was unable to show that there were any assets in the BVI. Having heard extensive submissions, Justice Bannister QC held that the Applicant had failed to show that the Respondent had any assets within the jurisdiction and accordingly there was "nothing upon which the Black Swan principle may bite". The Judge went on to clarify that the Black Swan jurisdiction is not directed at parties but rather at the property of the defendants to the relevant foreign proceedings. The WFO was accordingly discharged.

Partner Oliver Clifton and associates Grant Carroll and Matthew Neal based in Walkers' BVI office acted in this matter.

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