UK Overseas Territories (BVI, Cayman, and Bermuda) issue General Licences under the Russia sanctions regime for the payment of legal fees
On 13 April 2023, the BVI Governor issued Virgin Islands General Licence No. 03, 2023 (the BVI General Licence) allowing for the payment of reasonable professional legal fees and expenses. The BVI General Licence permits individuals and entities designated under the Russia and Belarus sanction regimes to pay for legal fees.
The BVI General Licence distinguishes between pre-designation and post-designation legal fees and sets a cap of up to US$600,000 on the fees claimed over the duration of the licence. Persons who wish to use the BVI General Licence must comply with reporting obligations as set out in the BVI General Licence to the Governor's Office. Importantly, practitioners who have filed financial sanctions licences using the “legal fees” ground may wish to utilise the BVI General Licence.
Should practitioners choose to exercise this option they should email the Governor’s Office if they will be relying on and using the BVI General Licence. The BVI General Licence is in effect from 13 April 2023 and will remain in effect until 13 October 2023 and can be found here and the BVI Financial Services Commission’s press release can be found here.
On 14 April 2023, the Cayman Islands Governor issued a new General Licence, GL/2023/0002 – Legal Services (the Cayman General Licence). The Cayman General Licence allows any Person or Relevant Institution to receive payments from a Designated Person (DP) or carry out any other necessary act.
The Cayman General Licence defines DP and Relevant Institution and specifies the conditions that must be complied with in full. The Cayman General Licence sets a cap on legal fees at US$600,000. The Cayman General Licence is also compartmentalised into legal services based on a prior obligation and not on a prior obligation.
A note on Bermuda
The Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform in Bermuda issued a similar General Licence covering the payment of legal fees in that territory on 20 December 2022. A copy of that licence can be found here.