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Saved by rent -Arbitration centre hopes to break ducks

Francois Lassalle

By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Staff

While stating that the BVI International Arbitration Centre (BVI-IAC) has not administered any arbitration case since it was launched five months ago, Chief Executive Officer Francois Lassalle said the dispute resolution hub has been doing well financially.

In fact, he told journalists yesterday that things are going as expected.

“I expect to be dealing with two to three disputes this year, probably around 10 next year, and I’m aiming for about 40 [cases] in year three. So, to date, we haven’t administered a case… We came to be operational as an arbitration centre really in January; so it’s five months ago.”

Lassalle said it is ‘perfectly normal’ for a new arbitration facility to have a ‘slow start’.

“My knowledge of the arbitration world makes me think that three, 10, and 40 is actually quite an aggressive target. Why? Because Singapore (an experienced arbitration jurisdiction) after 15 or 20 years was at 90 cases,” added Lassalle.

“If I get five [cases] this year, I’ll be ecstatic. If I get one, it won’t be a failure.”

“What we’ve had in the meantime is conversations with quite a few parties about how we can move their disputes to the arbitration centre, and these are still ongoing… I didn’t expect to have these conversations in the first six months in the first place; so I’m generally quite excited about that,” he added.

Significant Income

As it relates to how the company has been able to sustain itself and pay its three full-time employees, Lasselle said: “We designed the centre so that we can generate income outside of arbitration. So most of the income that we’ve generated – and we’ve generated significant income over the last five months – was generated through non-arbitration related events.”

Lasselle explained that the centre’s conference rooms are frequently rented to accommodate various events such as judicial proceedings.

He noted that, so far, the centre which is based at the Ashley Ritter Building near Wickham’s Cay II, has hosted about three sittings of the Court of Appeal.

Lassalle also said: “We had the TEDx conference; we had the medical conference; we had the sports finishing industry conference; we’ve had loads of events like that, you know – businesses renting rooms.”

He added: “This is going to basically generate most of the income for the next two years…the non-arbitration things. Janet [Brin] is actually going to be the key person to grow that income, [and] to market the centre as a conference centre. My role now [since] this is in place is to start growing the arbitration side of things.”

Brin was recently appointed Manger of the BVI-IAC.

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