BVI revises its suite of e-legislation
23 Apr 2021
The BVI has recently introduced the following new pieces of "e-legislation" which serve to tremendously aid transactions and stakeholders in the modern era of digital business.
- The Electronic Transactions Act 2021 (the NewETA), which repealed and replaces the Electronic Transactions Act 2001 (the Old ETA). The New ETA is on the statute books but will come into force on a date to be published in the Gazette by the Minister. The New ETA provides for the facilitation of electronic communication, and electronic transactions and for other related matters. The New ETA is divided into six parts: Part I: deals with preliminary matters, Part II: deals with the requirement for legal recognition, Part III: deals with electronic contracts, Part IV: deals with secure electronic signatures and records, Part V: deals with intermediaries and electronic commerce service providers and Part VI: deals with miscellaneous matters. The requirements in the New ETA enhance the provisions previously contained in the Old ETA in order to create a more robust framework that will serve clients doing business in the digital space. The New ETA also enhances amendments made in 2018 to the anti-money laundering regime which deals with identification and verification of client information. A copy of the New ETA can be found here.
- The Electronic Transfer of Funds Act 2021 (the ETFA) which comes into force on a date to be published in the Gazette by the Minister. The ETFA is a piece of legislation designed to provide for the regulation of the transfer of money through electronic means and for other related matters. The ETFA creates a number of offences related to instances where there is some criminal matter that is brought about by moving money by electronic means. For example, the ETFA deals with instances where there are false statements, theft by taking or retaining possession of a card, card theft, dealing in credit card of another, purchase or sale of card of another, obtaining control of card as security, forgery, signing card of another, fraudulent use of card, fraud by person authorised to provide goods, service etc., receipt of money obtained by fraudulent use of cards, obtaining goods by use of false, expired or revoked card, trafficking in counterfeit card, possession of card-making equipment, fraudulent electronic fund transfer. The ETFA codifies these as statutory offences which can be summary or indictable. The offences carry with them both fines and custodial sentences. A copy of the ETFA can be found here.
- The Electronic Filings Act 2021 (the EFA) which comes into force on a date to be published in the Gazette by the Minister. The EFA was enacted to provide for information, forms and documents to be filed electronically with public authorities and for all related matters. This is a welcomed reform as it will save time and be a very useful tool for practitioners in the context of the pandemic when they need to arrange for the filing of documents with a public authority (such as the BVI Financial Services Commission or International Tax Authority). A copy of the EFA can be found here.
- The Audio Visual Link (Amendment) Act 2021 (the AVLAA), which is deemed to have come into force on 7 April 2021 by virtue of section 16(3) of the Interpretation Act (Cap 136). The AVLAA amends section 3 of the Audio Visual Act 2017 by allowing the hearings of any civil or criminal proceedings in or before any court in the BVI including appeals to such matters and proceedings relating to protection orders, domestic violence matters, traffic and juvenile offences and to commercial litigation proceedings. The AVLAA also allows for the use of Audio Visual Link (a) in a period of public emergency has been declared pursuant to section 27 of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 or (b) there exists a health emergency or public health emergency of local, regional or international concern in the BVI such as an epidemic or a pandemic, and health measures under the Public Health Act, the Quarantine Act 2014, the Infectious Disease (Notification) Act 2013 or any other related enactment are or may be enforced. In instances where a public or health emergency arises the AVLAA empowers the Chief Justice to make regulations specifically relating to the use of the Audio Visual Link during these emergencies. The amendments to the AVLAA is particularly important during this time as the COVID-19 pandemic still continues to surge globally and allowing both practitioners and clients to be able to access the courts with the use of the Audio Visual Link will ensure that there is no delay in the working or operation of access to justice. A copy of the AVLAA can be found here.