Anguilla Law Firm

History and Background

Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory, having a constitutional relationship with Britain that is similar to the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda. It lies in the Eastern Caribbean, very near the French/Dutch island of St Martin/St Maarten (seven miles), and to the East of Puerto Rico (200 miles) and the British Virgin Islands (94 miles), with St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua to the south-east.

Anguilla was first colonised by the British in 1650. It unilaterally left the British-administered Associated State of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla in 1967, instead opting to return to direct British rule, and formally attained its present status as a British Overseas Territory in 1980.

Anguilla’s ministerial form of government provides for a legislature called the House of Assembly and an Executive Council. The British-appointed governor retains responsibility for internal security, police, civil service, defence, external affairs and international financial services.

Anguilla’s financial sector, though relatively small, is well-developed, efficient and expanding. The current trust and corporate laws launched in 1994, and subsequently amended as necessary, are modern in their approach. There are several commercial banks, law firms and accounting firms, together with a number of trust companies, company managers and insurance companies regulated by the Financial Services Commission.

While the East Caribbean dollar (XCD) is the official currency, the US dollar (USD) circulates freely and there are no exchange controls.

Legal system and Court Structure

Anguilla’s legal system is based on that of England. English law and practice have been specifically extended to Anguilla by statute, insofar as the reasonably comprehensive local legislation enacted by the House of Assembly does not cover any particular area of practice in civil proceedings, probate, divorce, and matrimonial causes. Anguilla comes under the umbrella of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and all appeals from the High Court lie with its Court of Appeal, with final right of appeal to the Privy Council in England.

New Developments

A Joint Committee on Legislation (“JCL”) has been formed to propose and review all financial services legislation.  The JCL is comprised of members of the private sector, Financial Services Commission, Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Finance. The Executive Director of Anguilla Finance, a private sector organisation, formed to develop and promote the financial services industry, is coordinating the meetings and activities of the JCL. The JCL has held several meetings during the past year and the following decisions have been taken:

  • Amendments to the Limited Liability Company Act, permitting the formation of cell companies with an LLC (denominated “Series LLC”) and also permitting the continuation (i.e. redomiciling) of foreign companies (not necessarily being an LLC) have been submitted to the government for enactment.
  • The substantive provisions of the International Insurance Act have been approved by the JCL. However its provisions must be further reviewed and reconciled with the provisions of a new proposed Insurance Act regulating domestic insurance companies.
  • Certain amendments to the Mutual Funds Act are to be further considered and reviewed by the JCL.
  • The JCL has agreed that new insolvency legislation should be enacted and is conducting a review of current insolvency legislation in the various common law jurisdictions.