The Move Toward an Indigenous Virgin Islands Jurisprudence:  Banks in Its Second Decade

By Kristen David Adams
April 1, 2023

In 2011, the Supreme Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands decided Banks v. International Rental & Leasing Corp. and, with that decision, introduced a new era in Virgin Islands jurisprudence that embraced a much more active role for Virgin Islands courts and a correspondingly diminished role for the American Law Institute’s restatements.  This Essay examines what I will call “second-generation” decisions referencing Banks with the goal of determining whether Banks and its progeny have met, or are at least in the process of meeting, “the goal of establishing ‘an indigenous Virgin Islands jurisprudence’” set by the Banks court.  Ultimately, this Essay concludes that this question has now been answered in the affirmative, and strongly so.

In reaching this conclusion, this Essay opens by tracking Virgin Islands courts’ increased willingness to reject and modify restatement rules, increasingly clear treatment of the restatements as secondary sources, and increased willingness to adopt minority rules when doing so is the best fit for the Virgin Islands.  It continues by exploring several changes in the Banks analysis over time, several reasons why courts may decline to do a Banks analysis, and several cases that demonstrate that Banks’s meaning continues to evolve.