As a British overseas territory, the BVI government operates as a parliamentary democracy. Ultimate executive authority in the British Virgin Islands is vested in the Queen and is exercised on her behalf by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands. The Governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Government. Defence and most Foreign Affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
The most recent constitution was adopted in 2007 and came into force when the Legislative Council was dissolved for the 2007 general election. The Head of Government under the constitution is the Premier (formerly referred to as Chief Minister), appointed by the Governor from among members of the Legislative Council. By parliamentary convention, the Premier is the leader of the party holding the largest number of seats.
The Cabinet (formerly referred to as the Executive Council) is appointed by the Governor upon the advice of the Premier.
The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 establishes a new Constitution for the Virgin Islands, to replace the Constitution of 1976. The new Constitution includes, for the first time, a chapter setting out the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual and provisions for their enforcement. It provides for a Governor as Her Majesty’s representatives in the Islands, and for a Premier and Ministers who form a Cabinet together with the Attorney General. It provides for an elected House of Assembly, which together with Her Majesty forms the Legislature.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court continues to have jurisdiction in the Islands. Provision is made for a Public Service Commission, a Teaching Service Commission, a Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and a Police Service Commission to provide advice on appointments to offices in these services. A new National Security Council is established, as is the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Provision is also made for public finance, a Complaints Commissioner, and a Register of Interests.