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Seychelles to look at reform of civil laws

19 September 2011
Reforms recommended at a seminar sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat include the introduction of mediation to settle civil cases and changes to Seychelles civil procedure code

A working group will be set up by the Chief Justice of Seychelles, the Hon Mr Justice Frederick Egonda Ntende, to look at possible reforms of the country’s civil laws, following a seminar sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The judicial seminar on civil case management, held in the Seychelles capital Victoria on 5-6 September 2011, involved 44 officials from the judiciary and the legal profession, including the Chief Justice and Attorney-General Rony Govinden.

The Chief Justice told the seminar that changes were needed in order to dispose of civil cases and resolve disputes expeditiously and in a cost-effective manner. The Civil Procedures Code does not allow for a timetable of events in civil cases to ensure their progression.

Master John Wheeler of the Royal Court of Jersey led the discussions and shared the experience of Jersey in reform of its civil procedure.

He said changes in Jersey had been necessary because existing rules were no longer efficient and there had been a change in legal culture.

It was now the objective of the Royal Court to dispose of “run of the mill” cases within 12 months of the claim being filed.

Among the reforms unanimously supported by the participants of the seminar include the introduction of mediation to settle civil cases and changes to Seychelles civil procedure code.

Having heard the recommendations, the Chief Justice announced, “I will set up a working group on civil justice to chart the path forward. The working group will advise the Chief Justice, Supreme Court and the government as to what reforms to the civil justice system are necessary.”

Legal adviser in the Commonwealth Secretariat's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division, Mark Guthrie, said the seminar was successful in provoking discussion, reflection and clear recommendations for the way forward for the civil procedure in Seychelles.

“Any reform must always be tailored according to the specific needs of the jurisdiction in question,” he commented.

Mr Guthrie added that many jurisdictions were confronted by similar issues and were also seeking to address these through the reform of both their legal culture and court procedure rules.

“The Commonwealth offers the opportunity for judicial officers and lawyers in different jurisdictions to come together to share their experiences and to learn from each other.”