The British Virgin Islands' (BVI) largest firm Harney Westwood & Riegels has opened an office at London chambers 24 Old Buildings
Harneys has a best-friend relationship with the set, which practises business litigation and international trust law. The firm refers most of its large BVI litigation to the chambers. Harneys, which has 150 staff, including 40 lawyers in the BVI, intends keeping its London office reasonably small. It is headed up by Peter Tarn, a former Allen & Overy banking associate, assisted by former barrister and banking expert Colin Riegels. Tarn led the firm's BVI banking and finance department until he moved to London. Harneys plans to bring another lawyer to London by Christmas. Tarn said the move was client driven. "We wanted to be in the same time zone as our European clients," he said. "As deals have become more complex, we wanted to provide more availability at meetings, rather than just by phone, and be able to answer questions at 8.30am." The London office will specialise in finance, corporate and investment fund work. Almost all of the firm's large deal work arises from City firm referrals, and it predominantly comprises setting up joint venture vehicles, holding companies and debt issuing vehicles. Harneys has an office in Anguilla in the Caribbean, which provides fiduciary support and company incorporation services. Harneys spent two years planning its move to the UK. It will recruit an office manager, but 24 Old Buildings' clerks and administration staff will provide support, although Harneys has an independent IT system. Last month, Caymans firm Walkers opened in the BVI after taking over the territory's corporate and international finance firm Barkers.