JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Traffic Stream (BVI) Infrastructure Ltd., 536 U.S. 88, 7 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 88 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

authority over the territory. The Constitution provides, for example, that the BVI Government shall include a Governor and Deputy Governor appointed by the Queen to "hold office during Her Majesty's pleasure," id., pt. II, 3(1), an Executive Council mainly appointed by the Governor on the basis of the popular election for the Legislative Council, 14-15, and a Legislature comprising the Queen and a Legislative Council of mainly popularly elected representatives, 25-26.

Bills take effect as laws only when approved by the royally appointed Governor or by the Queen acting through a Secretary of State, 42. The Governor is instructed to withhold assent from any bill that may conflict with the laws of the United Kingdom or is "likely to prejudice the Royal prerogative." 42(2)(b). The Queen, acting through a Secretary of State, has authority to annul any BVI statute, 43(1), and "[t]here is reserved to Her Majesty full power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Virgin Islands," 71. "[I]f the Legislative Council fails to pass . . . a Bill or motion . . . the Governor may, at any time that he thinks fit, . . . declare that such Bill or motion shall have effect as if it had been passed . . . ." 44.

The Crown's representatives have not slept on their powers, which have recently been exercised to impose laws and international obligations upon the territory, as in the Caribbean Territories (Abolition of Death Penalty for Murder) Order 1991, and the Merchant Shipping (Salvage Convention) (Overseas Territories) Order 1997, the latter of which brought the BVI into compliance with the International Convention on Salvage, 1989. In a very practical sense, then, the statutes that permit incorporation in the BVI, see BVI Companies Act (CAP. 285); BVI International Business Companies Act (CAP. 291), are laws enacted in the exercise of the political authority of the United Kingdom, and it seems fair to regard a BVI company as a citizen or subject of this ultimate political authority. This view of the relationship


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