Legal practitioners in the Territory participated in a conference to reflect and assess how to best respond to the needs of their respective clients.
The inaugural Virgin Islands Law Officers’ Conference was hosted by the Office of the Deputy Governor in collaboration with the Financial Services Commission on March 10. Money Matters BVI and the BVI International Arbitration Centre were contributing sponsors.
The aim of the session was to take a critical look at the responsibilities of and challenges facing legal practitioners representing the Government and statutory bodies in a modern Virgin Islands. It also focused on best practices in delivering legal services, professional development, capacity building and opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the legal teams from the Government and statutory bodies.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt Igwe, delivered welcome remarks on behalf of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Rosalie Adams.
Mrs. Stoutt Igwe said, “There is immense responsibility shouldered by the men and women of the legal profession who take on the role of ‘public officer’, but there is so much more we can learn from one another. As a Government, providing public service is our core job description.”
Mr. Gerard Farara, QC delivered the keynote address titled, ‘The Role of the Law Officer in a Modern Public Service’ and provided historical and constitutional context, and addressed the complexities of the law officer’s role. He also outlined the duties of law officers to the court, their respective clients and the legal profession.
The law officers debated and exchanged views among themselves and with panelists and facilitators including Attorney General, Honourable Baba Aziz and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BVI Financial Services Commission, Mr. Robert Mathavious.
The conference was also attended by Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Kim Hollis, QC;the President of the BVI Bar Association, Ms. Jacqueline Daley; the CEO of the BVI International Arbitration Centre, Mr. Francois Lassalle; the head of Harneys' Global Private Wealth Practice,Ms. Sheila George; the Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Michelle Donovan Stevens; the CEO of Oyster Global Communications, Mr. Russell Harrigan; and the Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion, Honourable Marlon Penn.
Conference Chair and General Counsel of the Financial Services Commission, Ms. Dawn Smith said providing legal services to a Government or a public authority is a complex responsibility and hailed the event a major success as it provided an invaluable networking tool for law officers.
Lawyers from the Attorney General's Chambers, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Supreme Court, the Magistracy, the Land Registry Department, the International Tax Authority, the BVI Health Services Authority, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the Financial Investigation Authority and the Financial Services Commission also participated in the session.
The 2017 Virgin Islands Law Officers’ Conference was held under the theme, ‘Beneath Our Robes: The Essence of Public Lawyering’.
Photo Caption: Group photograph of attendees at the 2017 Virgin Islands Law Officers’ Conference. (Photo Credit: GIS/Ronnielle Frazer)