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From the Chairman

2013 brought significant challenges to two of the jurisdictions in which we practice, in the form of the banking crisis in Cyprus and a data leak in the British Virgin Islands; both of these created opportunities for the well-resourced and well organised law firm and it is a matter of some pride that we took those opportunities enthusiastically. 

As a global firm with a long-standing heritage in the BVI, we have been outspoken in articulating the jurisdiction’s high standards of transparency and cooperation. The BVI can also be very proud of its excellent commercial legislation, which we as a firm have been instrumental in building over our 50-year legacy.

In August 2014, the BVI will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its landmark International Business Companies Act. The IBC Act not only gave rise to the BVI’s finance industry but created a successful model which has been emulated elsewhere. We are proud of the singular role that Harneys played in developing this seminal legislation. And without a doubt, we remain the unquestioned leader in the BVI due to our in-depth knowledge and experience, dedication to client service and steadfast commitment to the jurisdiction.

Through strategic recruitment of top talent we now field a fast-growing, dynamic Cayman team that reflects the firm’s core attributes of experienced commercial advice, transparent pricing and a promise to meet our clients’ timelines. In 2013, we recruited several senior-level Cayman lawyers with a wealth of experience in funds and litigation.

Our Cyprus office had its strongest year ever in 2013, thriving in what was a turbulent era for the Cyprus economy. Harneys remains the only international firm with a Cyprus presence. We assembled a Cyprus Banking Group drawing on all of our resources to assist clients through the banking crisis, increased our team of lawyers by nearly 30 per cent and expanded our litigation and investment funds practices.

We also launched a London litigation practice which in conjunction with our Cyprus office offers an expanded range of expertise direct to clients in the UK, Western Europe and Russia/CIS.

In fact, the firm as a whole achieved major growth across every one of our offices in 2013 – BVI, Cayman, Montevideo, London and especially Hong Kong.
Our acclaimed team of legal experts based in Hong Kong doubled in size in 2013 making us the second largest offshore law firm in Hong Kong. Our Hong Kong office provides top-quality coverage in all key BVI and Cayman transactional and litigation practice areas, and our restructuring practice there will expand further in the months to come.

Our Asian presence will soon extend into a new jurisdiction with the launch of the firm’s Singapore office. Singapore is a key jurisdiction in terms of cross-border capital flows and private wealth in South East Asia. Our Singapore launch is an exciting development that will further establish the global reach of our expertise in BVI, Cayman, Anguilla and Cyprus law. 

As a leading offshore firm in Latin America, we saw significant growth across the region during 2013. Our presence in both Sao Paulo and Montevideo enables us to assist Latin American clients in their own languages and time zones in the establishment of various complex corporate, investment funds and fiduciary solutions. Harneys was the only offshore firm to achieve top tier directory ranking in Brazil in 2013, placing us alongside the most renowned international firms.

In 2013, Harneys established a new practice group dedicated to the African continent comprising experienced lawyers in corporate, finance and funds law as well as our corporate and fiduciary services business, Harneys Services. We also announced a new association with top-tier Mauritius firm BLC Chambers, combining forces to offer clients a greater array of legal and corporate services.
2013 was an important year for Harneys Services which in May began offering BVI corporate services direct to clients in Asia after the conclusion of a long-standing and successful joint venture agreement with one of the region’s leading re-sellers of offshore companies. The transition together with the rapid growth of our Cayman corporate and fiduciary services offering has energised the business and this year sees us poised to introduce additional new products and services.

We believe that our future success is dependent on being agile, resilient and open to change while at the same time dedicated to a long-term vision. 
In the coming year, the firm will continue to hire dynamic, entrepreneurial individuals who will further develop our global remit.

Harneys has proven itself to be strong, vibrant and capable of navigating a range of challenges. As we as a firm evolve further to meet clients’ changing needs we will remain committed to the values that have distinguished Harneys as a leader for more than 50 years.

Peter Tarn
Chairman of the Executive Committee