Once amendments to the Charging Order Act of 2019 is passed, courts in the British Virgin Islands will have the power to enforce debt payments by leveraging a debtor’s assets.
This is according to Attorney General Baba Aziz.
Addressing the House of Assembly last Thursday, February 27, Aziz said the Charging Orders Bill seeks to grant the High Court the power to make orders that impose “a charge for securing the payment of monies due”.
The Attorney General explained this will be done as a judgement or a court order.
“Under a judgement, or order of the court, a debtor is required to pay a sum of money to a creditor. For the purpose of enforcing that judgment or order, the court may make an order — in accordance with the provisions of this Act — [by] imposing on any property as specified in the order charged for securing the payment of money due or to become due under the judgement or order,” Aziz explained.
He said these properties or assets may be directly or indirectly owned by the debtor. For example, the court can impose on shares held in layered businesses that are ultimately beneficially owned by a debtor.
“The enactment of this bill will demonstrate that the territory is not a haven for those who will seek to evade justice by means of — in part — the use of asset protection structures,” the Attorney General said.
We support the amendments
Meanwhile, several legislators supported the amended legislation when it was debated on Thursday.
“It is important that we go after every penny available to us and this bill here allows us to do just that,” Minister for Natural Resources & Labour Vincent Wheatley said.
He continued: “We know we are faced with the loan guarantee challenge, we are faced with the drop-off in financial services, and now the coronavirus and our tourism might be challenged. This bill here will allow us to bring in additional funds that we would otherwise not have access to.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation, Works & Utilities Kye Rymer described the bill as a vital piece of legislation.
“We understand the shortfall in our revenue, and this [bill] is timely, and it will be important for us as a territory,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Neville Smith and Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone also rose in support to the proposed amendment to the legislation.
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