Virgin Islands Law Blog

Virgin Islands Law Blog

U.S. Virgin Islands law & politics

End of Safe Harbor Will Pose Challenges to US Businesses

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services, International

SafeHarbor Logo-LinesThe legal agreement that enabled the exchange of European citizens’ personal data between European and U.S. firms is no more. In an October 6 ruling, the European Court of Justice declared the Safe Harbor agreement invalid, charging that data protection processes in place at companies like Facebook is insufficient and fails to meet the standards necessary to avoid misuse.

Safe Harbor, which was instituted in 2000, was supposed to allow for the transfer of personal data in a manner consistent with privacy standards in the European Union. However, in the wake of revelations of mass surveillance on the part of the U.S. government, the ECJ ruled that Safe Harbor does not properly protect individuals from having their personal information shared by U.S. businesses with U.S. government agencies involved in the country’s espionage programs.

The potential impact to small businesses

The reaction from many larger corporations, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others, has been muted, with representatives of those companies responding that they have safeguards in place that are fully compliant with E.U. privacy laws independent of the Safe Harbor agreement. Smaller companies, however, may face a greater challenge when it comes to transferring customer data going forward.

Safe Harbor was a nonbinding agreement, which meant companies were essentially responsible for self-certifying that they were in compliance. This approach made it easier for smaller companies to share data, because it didn’t require that they spend time or money for the ability to do so. With Safe Harbor’s demise, such firms may now have to rely on binding corporate rules and model contract clauses, which require going through different channels for approval before transferring data will be permitted. Companies with the resources to use these methods have, in many cases, already put them in place, but the process could strain the resources of smaller firms.

The end of Safe Harbor, at least in its existing form, has been a concern for the U.S. and the E.U. for some time, particularly as concerns about the misuse of data by U.S. companies and government agencies has increased. Authorities have long been attempting to arrive at a new agreement that balances national security concerns in the U.S. with personal privacy concerns in the E.U., and it’s unclear how the recent ECJ ruling may impact those negotiations.

The European elimination of Safe Harbor data sharing could have serious consequences for the many financial institutions, Internet companies and e-commerce businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands that do business with European firms. If you believe your company may be impacted by the elimination of Safe Harbor data sharing in Europe, it’s important to seek the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable business attorney.

BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established business law firm serving corporations and partnerships throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. Virgin Islands: The Perfect Port of Call For Film and Television Production

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services, International


The U.S. Virgin Islands is well-known as a breathtaking vacation destination and a corporate tax haven.  It is less well-known, but equally attractive as a destination for film and television production.

As far as tropical shooting locations, the USVI can hardly be beat.  In a relatively small area, the USVI offers both tropical desert and lush tropical rainforest, unparalleled crystal blue waters, quaint Danish colonial architecture, tropical reefs, deep and shallow wreck diving, mountainous jungle terrain, and steep rocky cliffs, not to mention a beautiful and diverse population.

In contrast to many tropical competitors, however, the USVI offers a litany of advantages.  The currency is the US dollar, eliminating losses due to foreign exchange.  The local language is English, eliminating the need for translators or guides.  No passports are required for US citizens, making the movement of talent and operations a breeze.

If perfect scenery and a smooth transition were not enough, a new incentive program is soon to be rolled out by the USVI’s government.  These new incentives will deliver up to a 17% transferable tax credit, plus up to a 29% cash rebate for qualifying productions.  These incentives will make the USVI directly competitive, if not a more financially attractive shooting location than competing shooting destinations such as Puerto Rico, the Dominic Republic, Fiji, or Hawaii.

BoltNagi is an established and respected business law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FTC to Take Increased Role in Data Security Following Wyndham Decision

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services

FTC LogoA recent unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is poised to have a considerable impact on cybersecurity for American corporations, including those in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Wyndham Worldwide Corp. puts to rest an ongoing debate regarding the oversight of corporate cybersecurity, with the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Stored Communications Act, and various state laws all potentially having a role to play in safeguarding against cyber threats. According the Third Circuit’s decision, the regulation of cybersecurity falls within the purview of the FTC, which means businesses operating under U.S. law are now responsible to the Commission when it comes to implementing appropriate security measures.

The Wyndham case grew out of a series of severe data breaches involving the hotel management firm. Hackers accessed more than 600,000 Wyndham customers’ personal information—including credit card numbers—and engaged in fraudulent activity. In total, it is believed that at least $10.6 million in lost funds can be traced back to the data breach.

Part of the reason why the Wyndham decision is so important to American businesses is that, in an age of increasing reliance on technology, the ease with which company or customer information can be accessed by third parties creates the potential for serious breaches, thus making it all the more urgent that businesses take the proper steps to avoid data compromises in the first place. Companies need to revisit their privacy policies, their data collection policies and practices and their security measures in order to make sure both they and their customers or clients are well protected. They also need to hold their policies up against industry-specific rules and state or territorial laws to ensure full compliance.

For the FTC’s part, the Third Circuit ruled that the Commission has the power to oversee cybersecurity because data breaches like Wyndham’s constitute acts of unfairness or deception toward customers. In short, because Wyndham had a privacy policy in place, failed to abide by it and exposed customers to financial losses—while still benefiting as a company by keeping the profits associated with attracting those customers in the first place—the firm acted unfairly toward its customers, thereby violating the Federal Trade Commission Act.

In the wake of Wyndham—and with the threat of cybersecurity breaches growing stronger and more complex all the time—it’s becoming increasingly critical that businesses take the steps necessary to ensure the security of company and customer data. But as the decision highlighted, it’s not enough to merely attempt to implement security measures—it’s also important that businesses and corporations educate themselves on processes and systems currently available, to make sure they’re doing everything within the power to guard sensitive data.

If you have concerns about your company’s cybersecurity or would like to better understand how the Wyndham decision affects your business, reach out to a skilled business law attorney with specialized expertise in data privacy and FTC enforcement, such as the attorneys at Bolt Nagi.

BoltNagi is an established and widely respected corporate law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Navigating the Purchase Agreement when Buying a New Business in the USVI

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services


Purchase Agreement


Buying an existing business offers an opportunity to experience the thrill of business ownership without a lot of the headache and frustration that comes along with starting a business from the ground up. Typically, the process will involve a great deal of discussion between buyer and seller, and some back-and-forth over general aspects of the sale.

But businesses should not just be sold via handshake, which is where the purchase agreement comes into the picture. A purchase agreement is the formal document in which the details of the sale are put down on paper—and because it’s considered a legal contract, it’s generally good policy to involve an attorney in the drafting process. This helps ensure everyone’s best interests are being taken into account.

Covering all your bases

A purchase agreement should include a number of details related to the purchase and sale of the business, not least of which are the amount of the sale and the method of payment. It should also include a variety of terms and conditions, such as an outline of any actions that need to be taken prior to the sale, a thorough accounting of all aspects of the business that are being purchased (such as assets, equipment or inventory) and a plan for handling any disputes that result from the sale of the business.

In addition, the purchase agreement will likely include other documentation related to the transaction that needs to be transferred from seller to buyer. Chief among these are corporate documents, including articles of incorporation and bylaws, as well as tax and financial documents, leases, property deeds and other documents that the new owner will need.

However, there are also other factors that you’ll likely need to be thinking about when drafting a purchase agreement, many of them things that might not immediately come to mind. For example, if you’re buying a business, does it have a list of regular customers whose information you’ll need? Does the business have valuable intellectual property without which the business would lose money or its reputation? These are factors that an attorney with a background in navigating and drafting purchase agreements can help you identify and make sure are included in the purchase agreement.

Working with a professional

Buying a new business can be an exciting process, but it can also confusing, and it’s not something you want to get into without the counsel of an experienced business law attorney. A skilled legal professional with experience working with the sellers and buyers of businesses can be very helpful when drafting a purchase agreement and working through the process of buying a business, and can also help you ensure nothing has been forgotten.  Although U.S. mainland residents looking to buy a business in the USVI may already have trusted, competent business counsel, local counsel in the USVI is imperative for a smooth transaction due to many unique local customs and requirements.

BoltNagi is respected and well-established business law firm serving corporations and partnerships throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.



EEOC: Anti-Discrimination Laws Protect LGBT Workers

Posted in Labor & Employment

LGBT Rights picThe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled on July 15 that existing law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The ruling comes in response to a complaint filed in 2012 by an air traffic control specialist alleging that he was denied employment because he was gay.

Specifically, the EEOC determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is the benchmark statute when it comes to handling employment discrimination claims, protects sexual orientation because the very concept is dependent on gender. The EEOC stated that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation “necessarily entails treating an employee less favorable because of the employee’s sex,” calling the practice “associational discrimination on the basis of sex.” Employment discrimination on the basis of sex is outlawed under Title VII.

As has been the case with many of the recent court decisions involving LGBT rights, the EEOC’s ruling was not without conflict, and the final vote of 3-2 suggests that the likelihood of challenges in the courts may be high.

Nevertheless, the decision marks a major step forward in the movement for LGBT civil equality, and it was lauded by organizations working on their behalf. A representative of the National Center for Lesbian Rights saw the decision as further confirmation of a “growing consensus” that sexual orientation should be a protected category—not just in employment, but also in other areas of life such as education and housing. LGBT populations are not currently protected from discrimination in those areas and many others.

Impact of the decision

Although the ruling does not carry the clout that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling would, at least in terms of settling the matter once and for all, EEOC decisions are still taken seriously at the federal level when matters of employment discrimination make their way into the court system.

Similarly, on some level the actual reach of the EEOC’s decision is relatively small, as it applies only to the federal government and the offices of the EEOC itself. Nevertheless, the decision does represent progress toward full civil equality for LGBT Americans, and various activist groups are already planning next steps in the effort to achieve federal protection from employment discrimination. Such an effort could very well lead to the next significant LGBTQ-related case to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.


BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established business law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Youth Employment and the FLSA

Posted in Family Law & Children's Issues, Labor & Employment

2015 Blog Paperboy picThe U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enacted in 1938, established a number of standards regarding employment, including the eight-hour workday, the 40-hour workweek, the federal minimum wage and the right to overtime pay. It also set a number of standards pertaining to youth employment in an effort to reduce child labor and exploitation. Here’s a look at some of what the FLSA does for younger workers:

Minimum age

The FLSA establishes age restrictions related to employment. For example, those under the age of 14 cannot work except in roles exempt from the FLSA, 14- and 15-year-olds may work limited hours in non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs and 16- and 17-year-olds may work unlimited hours in non-hazardous jobs. Upon reaching 18 years of age, a person is treated as an adult for employment purposes.

Hazardous jobs

The definition of “hazardous jobs,” per the FLSA, includes those positions that are “particularly hazardous” for minors, or “detrimental to their health or well-being.” Industries either totally or mostly off limits to young workers include mining, construction, meat processing, lumber and manufacturing.

Working hours

Although there are no limitations on working hours for those 16 and older, 14- and 15-year-olds are restricted in terms of when and how long they may work. For starters, they cannot work during school hours and are barred from working more than three hours on a school day, including Fridays. They cannot work more than eight hours on a non-school day.

Their workweeks are also limited to 18 hours during the school year and 40 hours during summer or other break periods. Finally, younger workers may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (or 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day).

Special programs

In addition to identifying restrictions and limitations related to youth employment, the FLSA also establishes some programs geared toward 14- and 15-year-olds to better prepare them for future employment. One of these is the Work Experience and Career Exploration Program, which serves young people in need of career-focused educational opportunities and encourages the completion of necessary schooling in preparation for the working life. There are also work-study programs for young people enrolled in college prep courses. These students must be identified as potentially benefiting from a work-study opportunity by a qualified school.

Running afoul of the FLSA is not something any business owner is eager to do. If you have questions or concerns related to your company and its compliance with FLSA guidelines, contact a knowledgeable and experienced employment law attorney to learn more about how the law applies to your industry and what it means for your organization.


BoltNagi is a widely respected business and employment law firm proudly serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services Hearing

Posted in American Bar Association

Tom Bolt
In this four-part interview, Legal Talk Network producer Laurence Colletti talks with Tom Bolt, Robert Hirshon, Chris Zampogna, and Fred Headon about their contributions and ideas for the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services Hearing. Together they discuss possible updates to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, non-tech innovations to help the practice of law, how small firms and paralegals are helping with access to justice, and suggestions from the Canadian Bar Association for maintaining a vibrant and relevant legal profession. Click here to play

How to Move Forward with Dissolving a Partnership

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services

Just_divorcedMaking the decision to dissolve a business partnership is rarely easy, particularly if bad blood has developed and the partners can simply no longer work with each other. However, there are other circumstances that can lead to dissolution being the best option, such as one partner wanting to retire or even simply losing interest in the business venture.

Regardless of the reason, dissolving a partnership is a complex process and requires some sound planning. The following are some ways to make it more manageable:

Think about dissolution when you start a business. At the outset of your new venture, your partnership agreement, which you should put together any time you start a new business, should include a strategy for potentially dissolving the business. It’s much like a prenuptial agreement, in that it should outline a process for dissolving the business, dividing assets and sharing responsibilities if you and your partner should decide to move in different directions.

Take stock of what needs to be done before dissolution. Generally, a business will always be in a state of flux. Some projects will be in progress, others will be coming due and there’s probably no “perfect” time to dissolve. Go over any contracts, leases and other documents pertaining to your business to determine what may be impacted by the dissolution, and how. Make sure the company is up to date on invoices and other payments.

Understand how dissolution can happen. A partnership may be dissolved via several different avenues. It can happen voluntarily (in writing), involuntarily, due to actions committed by a partner against the interest of the business, or through the legal system in the event that the partnership has been involved with any sort of illegal practices.

Avoid unnecessary conflict if possible. To be sure, not all partnerships dissolve peacefully. There may be conflict regarding partner shares, profits, management changes, risks, losses and even intellectual property related to the business. A dissolution strategy in an initial partnership agreement is a great way to prevent unnecessary conflict in the future.

Move forward responsibly. If your business is dissolving along with the partnership (and even if it isn’t), you’ll need to keep your customers, suppliers and any businesses you have partnered with in the loop. If the company will remain active, you will need to be sure to remove the departing partner’s name from documentation pertaining to the business. You may also need to restructure the company, as an LLC, for instance, or perhaps a C corporation.

The dissolution of a business partnership is not likely to be easy, but with a little preparation, you can make the process go as smoothly as possible for you and your company. It’s important to consult an experienced business and corporate law attorney to ensure you are covering all of your bases when it comes to this important issue.


BoltNagi is an established and respected business law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Prevention the Key to Avoiding Intellectual Property Infringement

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services


Intellectual property is one of the key components of any company’s brand. Whether your business is brand new or you’ve been an established fixture in your industry for a number of years, you likely have a logo, product or other property upon which your business’s image—and perhaps even your livelihood—depends. Discovering that another entity has infringed upon your intellectual property is not an experience any business owner wants to have, as it can lead to lost revenue, expensive litigation and damage to your reputation and brand.

But what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? How are you to know whether you’re infringing upon someone else’s intellectual property? When it comes to avoiding copyright, trademark and patent infringement, the key is prevention. The following are some ways to avoid possible infringement issues:

  • Copyrights: Copyright infringement is relatively easy to avoid in the sense that it’s rarely an accident. Whether you’re dealing with an image, text or sound recording, “borrowing” from an existing work in the sense in which it frequently happens—through outright copying—is unacceptable. By being creative rather than relying on existing materials, you can better prevent copyright infringement.

  • Trademarks: Unlike copyrights, which generally require copying to be infringed upon, trademarks can be violated by designs or ideas that are “similar enough” to something that already exists. A close resemblance between business or product names, logos, slogans, sounds or other attributes can be enough to land a business in hot water for trademark infringement. Perhaps not surprisingly, this makes avoiding possible trademark infringement much more difficult. Start with a simple Internet search, graduate to a search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and seek the counsel of a skilled intellectual property attorney.

  • Patents: There are two main types of patents that most creators need to be aware of: utility patents and design patents. Utility patents are good for 20 years and prevent unauthorized use of an invention or process. Design patents last for 14 years and prohibit infringing upon the appearance of the patented product. Again, the database of the USPTO will be very helpful in ensuring your business avoids infringing upon an existing patent. If your product does not appear to violate any still-active patents or resemble any older ones, applying for a new patent could be in your best interest.

In any case involving intellectual property, your best chance at avoiding infringement comes when you conduct research ahead of time, looking into existing patents, copyrights and trademarks to be certain your idea is new and different and does not violate federal or territorial intellectual property law.

Additionally, you should ensure you have a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney on your side. The details of intellectual property law are often complex and confusing, and seeking the counsel of an experienced lawyer can help you find the clarity and peace of mind you need as you move forward with your plans.


BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected intellectual property law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.


The Hotelkeeper Law of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services

Hotel picA key aspect of being a proactive business owner is understanding how the law impacts your industry. Fortunately, many industries have areas of the law devoted specifically to their business practices. The hospitality industry is one such industry, as hotelkeepers in the U.S. Virgin Islands are governed under Title 27, Chapter 13, Sections 401-408 of the Virgin Islands Code.

The following is a closer breakdown of the different provisions of the hotelkeeper law:

Key definitions: To help clarify terms as they are used in the relevant chapter, the words “hotel,” “hotelkeeper” and “guest” are defined. A hotel is a place where sleeping accommodations are provided, while a hotelkeeper is any person or group involved in the administration of the hotel. A guest, meanwhile, must either be registered or on the premises with the intent to register.

Safes and limited liability: This section of the law declares that a safe must be provided for storing valuables and that a hotelkeeper shall not be liable for losses exceeding $200, regardless of whether the valuables were stored in the safe.

Other personal property and limited liability: Similarly, other personal property, such as apparel, luggage, merchandise for sale and property left in vehicles, is not the responsibility of the hotelkeeper, who may be liable for certain losses of $100 or less.

Guest registration records: Hotelkeepers are to maintain records of guests’ names, addresses, arrival and departure dates and room rates for at least two years.

Unclaimed property liens: When property is brought onto the premises, the hotelkeeper has a lien on that property. In the event that property is left on the premises and unclaimed for six months, a public auction of the property may be held. The law goes into further detail about the use of funds obtained from these auctions.

Refusal of accommodations: A hotelkeeper is not obligated to permit everyone to rent a room or use the facilities at the hotel. Intoxication, disorderly behavior, dangerous illnesses, criminal record, refusal to pay and attempting to bring certain types of property onto the premises may be cause for refusal of accommodations. Denial of accommodations on the basis of race, creed or color is prohibited, however.

Eviction: A hotelkeeper may evict a guest from the hotel if that person has knowingly violated rules, damaged the property or remained on the premises past the length of the reservation. Notice of eviction must be delivered in writing.

Posted rates: Finally, room rates are to be posted in each room of the hotel, and hotelkeepers are prohibited from charging rates higher than those posted.

Although some elements of the hotelkeeper law are relatively straightforward, others can be more complex. If you find yourself on either side of a legal dispute, consult an experienced attorney who understands the USVI hotelkeeper law and how its provisions may apply to your situation.


BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established business law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.