BVI News


Law firm hired for over $654K without tender


Minister with responsibility for ports Mark Vanterpool said the tender process, which promotes transparency and fairness in the award of public contracts, was not used in relation to legal services provided for the government’s Cruise Pier Development Project.

Law firm Harney Westwood and Reigels was paid just over $654,000 for the services.

It should be noted that, under the Public Finance Management Regulations, Cabinet is allowed to bypass the tender process, which is usually required for project valued at more than $100,000.

In the House of Assembly this week, June 13, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie asked why Cabinet bypassed the tender process.

Vanterpool replied: “It is my understanding that the tender process was not used to obtain these services [provided by Harney Westwood and Reigels]. Instead, the services were obtained through direct negotiations.”

“It is my understanding that other firms were approached by the [government-owned] BVI Ports Authority to provide professional legal service linked to the cruise pier project. However, their costs proved prohibitive. And, therefore, after some negotiations, the firm of Harney Westwood and Reigels was chosen,” the minister further explained.

He said Harney Westwood and Reigels was the only law firm engaged by the BVI Ports Authority from the inception of the cruise pier project to date.

“I am also aware that, through the Ministry of Finance, legal advice and services linked to the cruise pier project were also sought and obtained from Baker Mackenzie – a UK legal firm,” added Vanterpool.

He further told the House that the legal fees have been paid.

“According to the records held by the BVI Ports Authority, one legal firm was engaged by the BVI Ports Authority, in the name of Harney Westwood and Reigels, to provide legal advice and/or services to the BVI Ports Authority and Tortola Pier Park Limited for the Cruise Pier Development Project, in the total amount of $654,535.12.”

“No variations were incurred during the provision of these services… According to records held by the BVI Ports Authority, there are no outstanding invoices or balances to be paid,” Vanterpool further said.

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  1. Perhaps says:

    The BVI seems to have mphasize into one big huge, rotten money apple.

    Mismanagement? Thievery? Corruption? no accountability from the top down?

    Are these things happening? No one really knows.

    What, what, what, what the hell is going on????!!!!

    Law firms and lawyers becoming richer.

    While, the middle class, public servants, the low wage earner and poor are all becoming poorer and sucking salt.

    As, the top 1% is over filled to busting.

    Yet, many had and still have so much confidence in this government. Hope it will turn the many bad tastes in so many mouths into sweet ones, not just the rich ones.

    Is the management of this economy being turned into a prototype of/like those of South America?

    Where the rich and powerful never even allow a crumb to drop from their tables for the poor to have? It is really hoped not.

    We are better than that, and we can do better to and for each other than that, but the signs they are troubling.

    • sweetie says:

      I agree with you except the civil servants are horribly overpai

      So we are supposed to believe that Harneys were cheaper than other law firms!!!! Come on, what do you take me for.

      • huh! says:

        I think Harneys was one of the firms that complained bitterly about the proposed increases in work permit fees.

        Given that virtually all Harneys lawyers (and many other senior staff) are expats and that they only have one belonger equity partner, they will need the masssive fees over charged to the ports authority (presumably at Skeleton-smiths gift) to pay the work permit fees.

        • @ Huh says:

          Do you really think Harneys are bothered by a once a year few thousand dollars for their Lawyers who earn the company millions annually?

          You have no idea about that business if you think they give a sht about that. Funny enough, the issue of permits hurts small/start up local businesses more than it will hurt any expat business here.

          • Que? says:

            Harney’s is no expat business – and they are the single biggest employer behind Government itself … so shut your mouth fool!

        • foolishness says:

          One belonger equity partner? Poor you. Stop talking what you don’t know.

      • Ashamed says:

        Harneys should be ashamed to be involved in this possible abuse of Govt process.
        Negotiations – I doubt it – more likely that there was no advance discussion and that Harneys just sent a bill and it was paid. Did Harneys retain anybody as a consultant?

      • Anonymous says:

        usually cheapest is not the best

      • Reader says:

        Civil servants reading this too much. You made a good comment and got 14 thumbs down. There are too many and they are overpaid. Fact

  2. Most Educated says:

    The thing that troubles me is that this bunch is the most educated that I have ever seen form the government of the BVI but for some strange reason they act contrary to the acumen they possess.

    This should have been the dream team to take this country forward however the acuity seems not to be forth coming.

    Tell us guys, what seems to be the problem????


    What we also need to know is how much has been spent on legal fees by Government to guide our legislators in determining how best to proceed with their dubious plan to make substantial increases in the pensions of past and present members of the Legislature. Why is the move still a military secret?

    Is the Opposition on board with this secret plan? They are both aware of the move but it is obvious that spilling the beans is not in their best interest.

  4. THE AUDITOR says:

    To most educated: You are spot on. There can be only one answer to your question, that is GREED and a deep hunger for power.

  5. Just wondering says:

    Didn’t the Port have a Lawyer?

  6. Lilly says:

    it does not matter what firm was chosen there would have been criticism. That is the nature of the beast here unfortunately.

    • ................... says:

      You are missing the point. Why wasn’t the tender process used. Can we see the other the proposals from the other legal firms. I am concerned that it seems like the people at Port who are close to these turn of events seem to lack integrity. Who is in charge of the Finances? Do we operate this way with our own money?

      They should all be sent home for not following protocols. This is a lot of money for legal fees when you already have a lawyer employed.That person too should be sent home as there is obviously no reason for them.

      Didn’t we hear somewhere else another Law firm was paid close to 3m in legal fees? what is really happening here?

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