About ABVI Law
Michael J. Fay, QC
Michael is a partner at ABVI Law, and has practised law in the BVI since 1996.
Michael’s legal practice covers (i) dispute resolution (litigation and arbitration), shareholder disputes, corporate law, insolvency, trusts, commercial, and civil actions to recover the proceeds of fraud, and (ii) real estate and development work.
Michael routinely works with law firms, insolvency practitioners, banks and fiduciary service providers with respect to multi-jurisdictional transactions and disputes.
He is regularly retained as an expert to provide evidence of BVI law for use in foreign legal and arbitration proceedings.
He sits as an arbitrator, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Admissions and Appointments
Michael was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 2011, and as a Deputy Court of Appeal Judge in 2017.
He was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 2013.
Michael served as the Chairman of the Financial Services Appeal Board from 2016 to 2020– the statutory body dealing with appeals against decisions of the BVI Financial Services Commission.
He has sat in the Court of Appeal in the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Lucia.
Michael is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and is a panel member at the BVI International Arbitration Centre. As an arbitrator, he is asked to resolve a wide range of disputes – not only business/commercial disputes similar to his legal practice, but also general contract, matrimonial, and general damage claims. His experience as a lawyer and deputy Judge makes him particularly suitable to serve as chairman on a 3 panel arbitration with two arbitrators who are experts in the technical subject matter of the dispute.
He also acts from time to time as a Referee – primarily dealing with Corporate and Commercial matters, particularly in Anguilla.
Michael holds, and has held, a limited number of company directorships, both executive and nonexecutive. He is valued for his general commercial experience, his tendency to challenge and probe, and his good knowledge of corporate governance matters. He is a director of the BVI Recovery and Development Agency, and a non-executive director of the Government owned International Corporate Centre in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.
Michael practised at the UK Bar between 1989 and 1996 from chambers at 5 Fountain Court and 11 New Square. He relocated to the British Virgin Islands to head the litigation department at Harneys in 1996. Michael was a founder partner at WSmiths in 2001, and became a partner in Ogier upon the merger between WSmiths and Ogier in 2007. He sat on the executive global board of Ogier (employing 850 staff in 9 jurisdictions), the global audit and risk management committee, and was the managing partner of the BVI office. He retired as a partner in Ogier in 2014 upon the sale of Ogier Fiduciary Services, and immediately established Advocates BVI. Advocates BVI rebranded as Agon Litigation when Arabella di Iorio joined as a partner in 2018. Michael retired as a partner at Agon, and established ABVI Law, in 2021.
Michael is a former Vice-President of the British Virgin Islands Bar Association, a former member of the BVI Government Company Law Review Committee, the BVI Government Joint Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Advisory Committee and various other Government advisory bodies. He gave up his membership of a number of Government advisory bodies when he was appointed as Chairman of the Financial Services Appeal Board.
Admissions & Appointments
- 2017 – Deputy Judge of the Court of Appeal
- 2013 – Queens Counsel
- 2011 – Deputy High Court Judge
- 2005 – St. Kitts and Nevis
- 1999 – Turks & Caicos Islands
- 1998 – Anguilla
- 1996 – British Virgin Islands
- 1989 – England and Wales
- Shareholder disputes
- Corporate law/Insolvency
- Commercial disputes
- Civil actions in fraud
- Commercial Development
- Michael read at Nottingham Law School and graduated with an LLB in 1988.
- He attended the Inns of Court School of Law and was called to the Bar in 1989.
- Michael graduated from Harvard Business School in 2010 with an AMP.
Hobbies & Private Life
Michael represented England at the European Schools Basketball Championships, and had a final rugby trial for England U18. He has run (with some walking) the Athens, Copenhagen and Mount Desert Island Marathons. He also followed in the wake of Leander and Lord Byron by swimming the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. Michael has yomped from San Carlos to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, and sailed from the BVI to Spain. He regularly competes (or rather participates) in Triathlons in the BVI.
Dispute Resolution – Litigation and Arbitration
The firm is recognised for its expertise in both international and domestic disputes.
The dispute resolution practice comprises shareholder disputes, general corporate law, insolvency, trusts, investment funds, commercial, and civil actions to recover the proceeds of fraud. We have particular experience, both prosecuting and defending, in corporate disputes including claims against directors, directors’ duties, unfair prejudice claims, derivative actions, joint ventures, schemes of arrangement and insolvencies.
Disputes in the British Virgin Islands Commercial Court frequently require urgent interlocutory relief, and we are well versed in freezing orders, receiverships, provisional liquidation, Norwich Pharmacal orders, and anti-suit injunctions. We do not rush into ex parte applications, and know that it is typically more difficult to defend an ex parte order than it is to obtain one.
The firm has significant experience of cross jurisdictional disputes, and those simultaneously proceeding in more than one jurisdiction. We work with international law firms on complex multi-jurisdictional matters, and understand the need to ensure that a coherent strategy for litigation in more than one jurisdiction is agreed and followed.
We undertake, and have full rights of audience litigation in the Commercial Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. We undertake advocacy ourselves, and where appropriate with specialist Counsel from outside the British Virgin Islands. Michael J Fay QC is sits as an arbitrator.
BVI Expert Evidence
Michael J Fay QC is internationally recognised as an expert, and is regularly asked to provide expert evidence on the laws of the British Virgin Islands for use in litigation and arbitration in foreign courts. Foreign Judges and Arbitral Tribunals have accepted and praised the clarity of such evidence.
BVI Real Estate and Development
The British Virgin Islands has a modern system of registered land with every parcel registered at the central Land Register maintained by the Government. The Government guarantees title, and the Land Registry provides a reliable, straight forward and relatively speedy process for registration of interests in land, thereby providing comfort to owners, lenders and anybody else with an interest in land.
The acquisition of real estate by purchasers who are not deemed to belong to the British Virgin Islands is restricted by the need to obtain a licence under the Non-Belongers Land Holding Regulation Act. The process is not overly complicated but is somewhat administratively burdensome. We ensure that we stay abreast of the policies and practices of the Ministry of Natural Resources in respect of NBLHR Act applications in order that they can be processed as quickly as possible.
The firm has good relationships with architects, engineers, construction companies, real estate agents, quantity surveyors and other involved in real estate development in the British Virgin Islands. We have experience with applications by local developers of commercial real estate for licences to import construction materials under the Hotel Aid Ordinance, and are able to assist foreign developers with development agreements with the Government.
We draft contracts for the purchase of interests in land or shares in a land holding company – whether (i) a simple contract to purchase undeveloped or developed residential, (ii) a sale and purchase agreement for the acquisition of shares in a land holding company, or (iii) a more complicated agreement relating to commercial premises. We have a commercial approach to real estate transactions, and are able to advise on stamp duty mitigation on residential and commercial transactions, and other financial concessions that might be obtainable from the Government with respect to commercial transactions that might be considered advantageous to the Territory.
TESTIMONIALS in the Law Directories
A seasoned practitioner who has been based in the BVI for more than two decades. He handles an array of high-value cases, including those relating to BVI trusts and investment funds, “Responsive and helpful”, “knows his way around company law”, & “provides confidence-inspiring advice.”
A very good advocate and one of the best on the island.
Spearheads the firm’s ‘simply outstanding’ contentious team. ‘Michael is an experienced and technically strong lawyer who consistently produces advice with a clear strategic focus as opposed to simply answering questions of BVI law’.
Highly respected corporate specialist handling all types of restructuring & insolvency issues
Heads the litigation team and is held in high esteem by clients as “an extremely capable performer in court” with fine commercial acumen and courtroom instincts.
A “very impressive and powerful figure” in general commercial and trust disputes, and sources praise his deep knowledge and expertise.