Since at least 1993, the BVI has been taking significant
steps to modernising its trust law which had until that time been based
entirely on the English common law provisions and the provisions of the
English Trustee Act of 1925.
The BVI’s Trustee Act first introduced in 1961 was sorely in need of updating and amendments were first undertaken in 1993.
The 2003 amendments introduced some of the most
modern trust law provisions in the Commonwealth and a new statute
introduced the VISTA trust – an innovative form of trust which can
(amongst other uses) serve as a settlor reserved power trust - which
has become exceedingly popular with BVI clients.
The Virgin Islands Special Trusts Act 2003 which
became effective on 1st March, 2004 has received critical acclaim from
some of the leading practitioners and professionals in the world. VISTA
trusts are now regarded as a premier product of the jurisdiction and it
is estimated that there are now billions of dollars under the
administration of such trusts.
Following the initial amendments to the law in 1993,
collaboration between the Attorney General’s Chambers and the BVI
Branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) resulted
in the introduction of further amendments to the Trustee Act.
Building on the success of VISTA trusts, the BVI
introduced legislation permitting the establishment of private trust
companies in August 2007. The new law – effectively an amendment to the
Banks and Trust Companies Act 1990 (as amended), exempts private trust
companies which fulfil the requirements of the new legislation from
requiring a licence to act as trustee.
This development has been applauded as striking the
right balance between proper and proportionate regulation for
professional remunerated trustees and exemptions for private
unremunerated companies, which are usually set up specifically to be
trustees of particular trusts.
With modern legislation and a deep pool of highly
qualified, widely experienced lawyers and trust professionals, the BVI
offers innovative and user friendly trust products that retain the
essential elements of tradition while avoiding conventional limitations
on the use of trusts whether for private or commercial purposes.