Nevis Law Firm

Nevis is a 36-square-mile island, located in the Caribbean, 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and two miles south of its sister island, St Kitts. The island is circular in shape with a 3,232ft mountain in its centre.

In 1983, Nevis, together with St Kitts, gained independence from Britain, and the two islands constitute the Federation of St Kitts-Nevis (the Federation). English is the official and spoken language in Nevis. Under the Federation’s Constitution, Nevis is permitted to legislate separately on certain specified matters, including commercial and corporate laws. Since Independence, Nevis has enacted several laws forming the basis its offshore financial services business. St Kitts has its own separate corporate, commercial and trust laws.

While tourism is the major source of revenue for Nevis, financial services is a thriving and increasing sector of the economy.

The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), which is shared by eight other territories in the region. The XCD has been pegged to the US Dollar (USD) at a rate of XCD2.7 to USD1 since 1976. The USD is also widely accepted and exchangeable throughout the island.

Legal System

The legal system of Nevis is based on the common law of England, before 1983, as varied by local statutes. Nevis is part of the Federation, with certain national sovereign rights guaranteed to the island under the Federation’s Constitution. While the Federal Government retains the rights to determine foreign policy for the Federation, Nevis is able to enact its own commercial, fiscal and corporate legislation.

The Queen of England is still the nominal head of state, represented on St Kitts by a Governor-General, and on Nevis by a Deputy Governor-General. Officially, no legislation is passed without the Governor-General’s signature on behalf of the Crown. Decisions of Nevis’ High Court, the local trial level court, can be appealed to the regional Court of Appeals of the Eastern Caribbean, which are in turn appealable to the Privy Council in London, England. Despite the ultimate authority of the Privy Council, its jurisdiction is limited to interpreting the laws of Nevis as enacted or determining whether the laws of Nevis are constitutional. The Privy Council’s jurisdiction does not extend to overriding Nevis’ laws.

New Developments

On 5 May 2011, amendments were made to the Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance, 1984; the Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance, 1994; the Nevis Limited Liability Company Ordinance, 1995; and the Multiform Foundations Ordinance, 2004. These amendments require the directors of Nevis business corporations, the trustees of Nevis trusts, the managers of Nevis limited liability corporations and the management board of Nevis multiform foundations to keep and maintain proper books of account, respectively. These proper books of account should correctly explain all transactions, enable the financial position to be determined and allow financial statements to be prepared.