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Nevis

Nevis is a 36-square-mile island, located in the Caribbean, 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and two miles south of its sister island, Saint Kitts. The island is circular in shape with a 3,232-foot cloud capped mountain rising in its centre called Nevis Peak. The island was sighted by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage, and was named Nuestra Senora de Las Nieves, but has since been shortened to its current name. In 1983, Nevis, along with Saint Kitts, achieved independence from Britain, and the two islands constitute the Federation of Saint Kitts-Nevis (the Federation). English is both the official and spoken language in Nevis.

Jurisdictional information for St. Kitts

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1. Introduction

a. History and background

Nevis is a 36-square-mile island, located in the Caribbean, 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and two miles south of its sister island, Saint Kitts. The island is circular in shape with a 3,232-foot cloud capped mountain rising in its centre called Nevis Peak. The island was sighted by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage, and was named Nuestra Senora de Las Nieves, but has since been shortened to its current name. In 1983, Nevis, along with Saint Kitts, achieved independence from Britain, and the two islands constitute the Federation of Saint Kitts-Nevis (the Federation). English is both the official and spoken language in Nevis.

Tourism is the major source of revenue for Nevis, almost 250,000 visitors flock to its sun, sand and shore annually to vacation at several resorts located on the island. A growing sector of the economy is offshore financial services, as several service providers have established offices on Nevis.

The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD), which is shared by eight other territories in the region. The ECD has been pegged to the US Dollar (USD) at a rate of ECD2.7 to USD1 since 1976. The USD is also widely accepted and exchangeable throughout the island.

b. Legal system

The legal system of Nevis is based on the common law of England, before 1983, as varied by local statutes. Nevis is part of the Federation, with certain national sovereign rights guaranteed to the island under the Federation’s Constitution. While the federal government retains the rights to determine foreign policy for the Federation, Nevis is able to enact its own commercial, fiscal and corporate legislation.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is still the putative head of state, represented on Saint Kitts by a Governor-General, and on Nevis by a Deputy Governor-General. Officially, no legislation is passed without the Governor-General’s signature on behalf of the Crown. Decisions of Nevis’ High Court, the local trial level court, can be appealed to the regional Court of Appeals of the Eastern Caribbean, which are in turn appealable to the Privy Council in London, England. Despite the ultimate authority of the Privy Council, their jurisdiction is limited to interpreting the laws of Nevis as enacted or determining whether the laws of Nevis are constitutional. The Privy Council’s jurisdiction does not extend to overriding Nevis’ laws.

Editorial board
Jan Dash TEP
RBC Wealth Management, Saint Michael, Barbados
Herman Liburd
Liburd and Dash, Charlestown, Nevis

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