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MYS 2018: Harneys on Rebuilding Efforts in the BVI

By Paul Joseph

Law firm Harneys were among the many companies affected by the devastating trail left by Hurricane Irma, which hit the BVI last year.

While the focus was of course on the human  impact of the hurricane, the task in situations like this is to revert life back to normal as soon as possible. And for the oldest law firm in the BVI, part of their responsibility was to restore operational normality for the benefit of both its employees and its worldwide clients.

Speaking to us at the recent Monaco Yacht Show, Johann Henry, Partner at Harneys, and Matthew Howson, Associate at Harneys, spoke to us about the challenge they’ve faced, both in terms of their response to the hurricane and the firm’s wider business demands.

“Things are progressing quite well,” he began by saying. “In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane we were able to engage our business continuity protocols and leverage the fact that we’re a truly global form and our offices in other jurisdictions were able to take on work.

“These offices are spread across 14 jurisdictions, with approximately 500 staff, just under 200 of which are in the BVI. So we had quite a lot of support and we were able to continue working so that the transition from BVI work to work on BVI matters from other offices was seamless for clients.”

He continued, “As for the general recovery, of course the BVI is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and the natural environment was up and kicking within a few days of the hurricane. So we’ve started to see the tourism business become revitalised.”

Turning to other matters, we asked Mr Henry how Harneys’ standing as the oldest and largest firm in the BVI serves to benefit their customers.

“We have used that and translated it into market dominance effectively,” he said. “We see ourselves as a challenger brand. Of course when potential clients across the world are looking for BVI lawyers, Harneys for them is synonymous with the BVI.

“And we haven’t got to that automatically off the back of being the oldest BVI firm. It’s taken years of work and our approach to business as a challenger brand.”

By Paul Joseph