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Harney Westwood & Riegels


  • Craigmuir Chambers
  • PO Box 71
  • Road Town
  • Tortola
  • Tortola
  • British Virgin Islands
  • VG1110
  • Tel:+1 284 494 2233
  • Fax:+1 284 494 3547
  • Email:Contact Us
  • Web:Visit website
  • Managing Partner: Peter Tarn
  • Number of partners: 31
  • Number of lawyers: 80
  • Languages: Cantonese, Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Putonghua, Russian, Spanish, Swedish

Firm Overview:
Harney Westwood & Riegels is a leading international offshore law firm providing the world’s top law firms, financial institutions and corporations with legal services relating to British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Mauritius law. The firm has a long standing reputation for providing fast, accurate and commercially astute advice. The firm has over 280 lawyers and staff operating in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, London, Hong Kong and Montevideo. The firm also has permanent representatives in Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Eastern Europe and provides Mauritius legal services through an association with BLC Chambers. The firm’s associated corporate and private wealth services business, Harneys Services, delivers a full complement of company, trust and fund formation and administration services.

Main Areas of Practice:  

Banking & Corporate:
14 Partners; 30 fee earners
Areas of specialty include trade finance, debt restructuring, property and acquisition finance, international debt issues, derivatives transactions, joint ventures, private equity transactions, listings, mergers and acquisitions.
•BVI counsel for BP, with Harneys Services as registered agent for TNK-BP, on the closing a US$55 billion mega-deal in which Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft took over TNK-BP. The deal closing took place in Harney’s BVI offices.
•Cayman counsel for UniCredit Bank AG on the restructuring of a US$200 million secured revolving facility. The acquisition created one of the largest mining companies in West Africa.
•Acting as Cayman and BVI counsel for both Kaisa Property Group and Shimao Property Group. Advising Kaisa Property Group (Hong Kong) in relation to its issue of US$500 million senior notes and Shimao Property Group (Hong Kong) in relation to its issue of US$800 million senior notes.
•Cyprus counsel to VTB Capital PLC in a US$3.6b financing for the acquisition of 37.8% interest in Polyus Gold International Limited a company which has the third largest gold reserves in the world
•Acted as BVI counsel for Citigroup in relation to the syndication of multi-billion dollar equity financing transaction
Contact: Colin Riegels
Tel: + 852 3195 7200
Email: colin.riegels@harneys.com
Contact: Russell Willings
Tel: +1 284 494 4037
Email: russell.willings@harneys.com

Investment Funds:
7 Partners; 12 fee earners
Specialised advice on fund formation, restructuring, administration and regulatory issues in the BVI and Cayman Islands, with deep experience in distressed fund situations.
•Cayman Islands counsel to Atlantic Security Bank a major financial institution in Latin America where the firm advises on a number of matters from regulatory requirements to investment acquisitions, ISDAs and a range of other fund matters, including litigation
•Advising Banco de Credito del Peru with group restructuring advice in the Cayman Islands and the BVI, as well as regulatory, compliance and fund set-up advice in the Cayman Islands
•Advising Equity Trust and the TMF Group on BVI Regulatory matters in relation to the acquisition by private equity house Doughty Hanson of Equity Trust
Contact: Philip Graham
Tel: +1 284 852 2551
Email: philip.graham@harneys.com

Litigation & Insolvency:
12 Partners; 26 fee earners
Accurate, clear and timely advice relating to British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands law, with particular emphasis on high profile multi-jurisdictional commercial and insolvency disputes.
•Acting for the successful claimants in the longest commercial trial in BVI history. The firm was instructed by 6 Saudi sheikhs in a claim against a German PLC. It was a test case on the ambit of the BVI’s unfair prejudice legislation and led to the BVI’s first business regulation order.
•Acted as BVI counsel for the heirs of Badri Patarkatsishvili, to successfully obtain ex parte freezing and other relief over disputed assets held in a number of complex BVI structures. The claim arose out of a dispute over the ownership of an oil terminal in the Black Sea worth an estimated US$239 million.
•Acting as Cayman counsel for BBX Capital Asset Management LLC in relation to a US$43 million claim under the Fraudulent Dispositions Law (1996 Revision) against a Florida property developer and against Royal Bank of Canada as trustee of the Firetrucks Trust
•Acted as Cayman counsel to Taylor Moor International, as well as investors in the Axiom Legal Financing Fund (“Axiom”), and now act for Grant Thornton as receivers. Axiom is alleged to be a £125 million Ponzi scheme involving loans made to various English solicitors to fund group litigation.
Contact: Phillip Kite
Tel: +44 207 842 6081
Email: phillip.kite@harneys.com
Contact: Andrew Thorp
Tel: +1 284 494 3267
Email: andrew.thorp@harneys.com

Trusts & Private Client:
2 Partners; 4 fee earners
The team specialises in the creation of all types of BVI, Cayman and Cyprus trusts, with particular emphasis on the creation of trusts to hold family trading and investing companies. The firm also advises on real estate, administrative, labour and general commercial matters in the British Virgin Islands.
•Acting as BVI and Cayman counsel to a large number of trust corporations (based in BVI, Cayman, Switzerland, Singapore and HK) and assisting with all manner of trust legal advice including (i) pre-contentious scenarios and where trustees are about to retire, (ii) generally drafting the full range of supplementary deeds for their books of BVI trusts (including deeds of appointment, deeds of indemnity, deeds of inter-trust transfer, deeds changing the governing law of a trust, deeds of retirement and appointment of trustees etc.) and (iii) reviewing and updating precedent trust deeds
•Working regularly with banks and trust companies to review proposed trust instruments, commenting in particular on their validity under Cayman law and on specific issues that the trustees should be aware of in relation to their potential trusteeship, such as the scope of their powers under the trust deed and provisions concerning trustee exoneration
Private Client Contact: Sheila George
Tel: + 1 284 494 6461
Email: sheila.george@harneys.com
Trust Contact: Henry Mander
Tel: + 1 345 815 2927
Email: henry.mander@harneys.com

Areas of Practice

  • Banking & Finance
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • Investment Funds & Regulatory
  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigation & Insolvency
  • Real Estate
  • Private Client
  • Tax
  • Trusts
  • Shipping & Aircraft
  • Insurance


  • Craigmuir Chambers,
  • PO Box 71,
  • Road Town,
  • Tortola,
  • British Virgin Islands
  • VG1110
  • Tel +1 284 494 2233
  • Fax +1 284 494 3547
  • Email : bvil@harneys.com
  • Website : www.harneys.com
  • 4th Floor, Harbour Place,
  • 103 South Church Street,
  • PO Box 10240,
  • George Town,
  • Grand Cayman
  • Cayman Islands
  • KY1-1002
  • Tel +1 345 949 8599
  • Fax +1 345 949 4451
  • Email : cayman@harneys.com
  • Omrania Middle East Centre,
  • 2nd and 3rd floor,
  • 313, 28th October Avenue,
  • Limassol,
  • Limassol District
  • Cyprus
  • 3105
  • Tel +357 258 20020
  • Fax +357 258 20021
  • Email : cyprus@harneys.com
  • Suites 3601-3605, Two Exchange Square,
  • 8 Connaught Place,
  • Central,
  • Hong Kong,
  • China
  • Tel +852 3195 7200
  • Fax +852 3195 7210
  • Email : hongkong@harneys.com
  • Ground Floor,
  • 5 New Street Square,
  • London,
  • Greater London
  • UK
  • EC4A 3BF
  • Tel +44 20 7842 6080
  • Fax +44 20 7353 0487
  • Email : london@harneys.com
  • Zonamerica,
  • Ruta 8, Km 17,500,
  • Edificio @3, local 200-005,
  • Montevideo,
  • Uruguay
  • 91600
  • Tel +59 82 518 2238
  • Fax +59 82 518 2238
  • Email : america.latina@harneys.com

General Business Law - Anguilla

This firm is classed as a "Other Noted Firm".

Other Noted Firms are firms that are active in this practice area but have not yet been ranked.

Offshore - Asia-Pacific Region

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners
- 19 other qualified lawyers
- office in Hong Kong 

What the team is known for Acclaimed BVI firm which is a go-to for insolvency, restructuring and disputes, besides having a solid corporate and investment funds practice. One of the first offshore firms to offer litigation capabilities in Hong Kong.  

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Industry knowledge: "A slick operation that is well integrated and on top of legal developments; a technically able team that comes up with ideas and propositions."

What's new? Colin Riegels relocated from the BVI office to Hong Kong in October 2012.

Recently took on one counsel and eight associates.

Work highlights Represented the liquidators of EganaGoldpfeil, KPMG, with respect to the implementation of a creditors' arrangement, relating to EganaGoldpfeil's BVI-incorporated subsidiary, P.C. International Marketing.

Advised IFC Development on its USD500 million guaranteed notes issuance.

Notable practitioners  

Ian Mann leads the litigation and restructuring practice in Hong Kong, and has an established reputation in the region for handling a wide range of corporate disputes. He played a key role representing EganaGoldpfeil in connection with its insolvency arrangements.

Head of global finance Colin Riegels is fast becoming a recognised name since his recent relocation. Interviewees say: "We're very impressed with his deep knowledge of BVI laws; he is very good at giving practical advice on the offshore legal framework."

Jonathan Culshaw leads the investment funds group in Hong Kong. "He's been excellent, always available on the phone and intelligently commercial - he doesn't raise needless technical points and knows the issues that are important to asset managers," says a market source.

Lisa Pearce continues to develop a strong reputation for her investment funds expertise. She is especially known for advising managers and trustees of unit trusts on private and retail offerings.

Significant clients Apex Fund Services, Citi, FTI Consulting, Gordian Capital, HSBC.

Corporate & Finance - British Virgin Islands

Basic facts about the department
- 7 partners
- 13 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Enjoys an enviable reputation as one of the largest and longest-standing players in the BVI, offering a broad and experienced bench of lawyers. It has significant strength in advising on investment funds, in addition to expertise in corporate and finance matters, and is well versed in regulatory issues arising out of transactions and capital markets work.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Industry knowledge: "They are good in providing us with changes, updates and the know-how we need to keep up to date."

Market standing: "They are clearly one of the leading firms in the BVI in terms of numbers and experience."

What's new? Leonard Birmingham, the global head of the firm's corporate and commercial group, returned full-time to the BVI from London in September 2012.

Work highlights Advised Kaisa Property Group and Shimao Property Group on their senior note offerings of USD500 million and USD800 million, respectively.

Advised PB Vessels on the refinancing of its DKK1.2 billion loan for the financing of four vessels.

Notable practitioners  

Ross Munro is extremely well respected for his investment funds practice and is described by market sources as a "technically very able funds lawyer." He leads the local funds and regulatory practice.

Leonard Birmingham heads the firm's global corporate department and relocated to the BVI from London in 2012. He offers in-depth BVI corporate, banking and insolvency experience.

Russell Willings is establishing a strong banking and finance practice with an emphasis on complex derivatives, insolvency and enforcement of securities. He is also recognised for his experience in Anguillan law issues.

London-based Indira Birkwood offers advice on banking, property finance transactions and capital markets concerns. "She is consistently available at short notice, unflappable and dependable," report market sources.

Significant clients Luna Gold, ING Bank, Quilvest, Delancey Group, Waterloo Investment Holdings.

Dispute Resolution - British Virgin Islands

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 9 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for One of the most well-established firms in the BVI, home to a highly regarded team of litigators. Offers BVI litigation capabilities from its Hong Kong office and more recently from London to provide clients with on-the-ground support. Leads on a significant number of major disputes in the BVI, including trust, fraud, asset tracing and hedge fund litigation.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Responsiveness: "They are very responsive and we have been very happy with their work product."

What's new? Phillip Kite relocated to the UK in July 2013 to establish a BVI litigation practice in London.

Work highlights Successfully acted for the claimants in the Chemtrade litigation, the longest trial in the history of the BVI, relating to the country's unfair prejudice legislation and a dispute over share ownership of assets worth over USD200 million.

Successfully represented the applicants in a hedge fund dispute against Monarch Pointe, concerning the priority of distributions of distressed funds.

Notable practitioners  

Andrew Thorp assumed the leadership of the practice group in the BVI following Phillip Kite's relocation to London. He specialises in international asset tracing and insolvency work. Interviewees say he "really knows how the courts work and what we need – the level of service is absolutely top-notch."

Senior associate Jeremy Child is singled out as a promising litigator and brings over eight years of experience at the Chancery Bar in London to his practice in the BVI. 

Significant clients Zolfo Cooper, Grant Thornton, Yukos, Titan Petrochemicals, Estate of Nina Wang.

Corporate & Finance - Cayman Islands

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Key strength in corporate and finance transactions in emerging markets. Involved in notable M&A, financing and restructuring deals.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Responsiveness: "They were very responsive, very professional, and very easy to deal with." 

What's new? Colin Berryman joined the firm from Ogier in May 2013.

Work highlights Advised Kaisa Property Group and Shimao Property Group on their USD500 million and USD800 million senior note issues, respectively.

Acted for VTB Capital on the restructuring of a USD3.5 million secured financing facility for Steep Rock Russia Fund.

Notable practitioners

Colin Berryman is rated for his experience of corporate transactions and investment funds.

Significant clients UniCredit, Atlantic Security Bank, Irish Telecoms Group, Morgan Stanley, Vabra.

Since publication, Colin Berryman has left this practice.

Dispute Resolution - Cayman Islands

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Regularly handles international cases litigated before the Grand Court's Financial Services Division in relation to major fraud, liquidation and insolvency matters. Works closely with the firm's litigation team in Hong Kong on an increasing number of shareholder disputes.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Technical ability: "They're a really good litigation firm and they really know their stuff."

Work highlights Acted for BBX Capital Management on its USD43 million claim against the trustee of the Firetrucks Trust and a property developer in Florida under the fraudulent disposition law.

Notable practitioners  

David Herbert heads the firm's Cayman Islands litigation and insolvency department, and leads on many of its largest and most high-profile cases.

Significant clients Kinetic Partners, Zolfo Cooper, Dubai Islamic Bank, The Eircom Group, Royal Bank of Canada.

Since publication, David Herbert has left this practice.

Corporate/Commercial - Cyprus

Described by clients as "very sharp, focused, efficient and commercial," founding partner Pavlos Aristodemou played a key role in advising VTB Capital on a USD150 million loan to fund the construction of the 'White Gardens' office centre in Moscow.

Founding partner Emily Yiolitis wins praise from clients for her responsiveness and clarity. Yiolitis provided advice on the USD1.2 billion Euroset transaction.

Nancy Erotocritou focuses mainly on banking and finance matters as well as handling corporate/M&A mandates.

Offshore - Global-wide

What the team is known for Best known for its BVI offering, remaining a strong offshore contender with a unique offering in Cyprus and Montevideo. Continues to expand its operations with key additions to its Cayman office and the establishment of a litigation group in London.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Efficiency: "They are very responsive and proactive - also, because they have lawyers in different jurisdictions, you get 24-hour service which is seamless and fantastic." 

Work highlights Advised Kaisa Property Group and Shimao Property Group on their senior note offerings of USD500 million and USD800 million respectively.

Notable practitioners

London-based Peter Tarn is the firm's managing partner, while Phillip Kite leads the global insolvency and litigation practice. In the BVI, Leonard Birmingham and Ross Munro head the global corporate and investment funds teams respectively. Marco Martins manages the Cayman office and Jonathan Culshaw leads the practice in Hong Kong.  

Significant clients Atlantic Security Bank, UniCredit, Reynolds Group, Sberbank, Virgin Group.

Offshore - UK

Basic facts about the department
- 6 partners
- 2 other lawyers

What the team is known for Offers high-quality advice on a range of matters concerning BVI law. Noted for its expertise in investment funds, corporate finance and banking.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "One of the strongest brands in London from a BVI perspective."

Client service: "They are proactive, friendly and efficient."  

Work highlights Advised Reynolds Group in connection with the BVI aspects of the sale of senior secured notes due in 2020.

Advised Sberbank on a USD750 million loan made to Capital Partners to fund the refinancing of the Metropolis shopping centre in Moscow.

Notable practitioners  

Indira Birkwood offers advice on banking, property finance transactions and capital markets concerns. "She is consistently available at short notice, unflappable and dependable," report market sources.

Significant clients Waterloo Investment Holdings, Finstar Group, West African Minerals, Mid City Place, Asia Wealth Plus.