Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1995

Publication Citation

2 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 413 (1995)


In this article Mr. Bill Maurer addresses a fundamental tension

at work in the British Virgin Islands: while British Virgin Islanders

(BVIslanders) proudly term themselves a "law and order" people

and seek to distinguish themselves from other Caribbean peoples,

the territory remains as wedded as ever to its British rulers and the

West. Mr. Maurer first notes that when a colonial people begins to

view itself as essentially different from its rulers, it may begin a

concomitant move toward self-rule. He shows that while the BVI

exhibits many attributes of such a territory, BVIslanders consider

their ties to Britain a critical element of their uniqueness and thus

self-rule is never seriously discussed.

The author illustrates this paradox by describing the passage

and effects of the BVI's International Business Companies

Ordinance, a law that established the BVI as a tax haven. He

argues that while BVlslanders are proud to call the law their first

truly local one, in fact the local legislature was forced as a result

of this law to submit to increased foreign regulatory scrutiny and

to enact recommendations set out in a Coopers and Lybrand study

commissioned by the British. He next points out that while

BVIslanders support most aspects of the Ordinance, they have

sharply criticized the implementation of a Crown-appointed board

designed to oversee the dependent territories' financial services

sector and guard against drug money laundering and other illicit

activities. Mr. Maurer views this controversy as further evidence of

the B VI's search for a national identity within the locally-accepted

confines of colonial rule.