There has been a lot of talk within the legal community of the Government's plans to open up the Seychelles legal profession to foreign lawyers. The Government has stated that there is pressure from the WTO for them to open up the legal profession to foreign lawyers. A proposed Legal Practitioners' Act (the "Proposed LPA") has been circulated and is drawing great criticism from all fronts.
Amongst other things, the Proposed LPA seeks to open up what is deemed 'international business law' to foreign lawyers. Foreign lawyers, without the need to undergo pupillage, can then set up shop in Seychelles and practice Seychelles law, but within the confines of this 'international business law'.
Push comes to shove, what the Proposed LPA does is allowing persons, unskilled and unqualified in Seychelles law, to practice within an area of Seychelles law. This is ridiculous. What makes this worse is that the people trying to push this matter forward (which are not the WTO people) do not even understand the difference between Seychelles law and the law of another jurisdiction.
Perhaps the layman does not comprehend what the critical issue is, so let me give you an analogy. Let's say that a Seychelles lawyer is a human medical doctor and a foreign lawyer is a vet. The Proposed LPA will basically allow a vet to operate on a human being! This is contrary to good sense. What human being would want to be operated on by a vet? What would the international community say if they found out that Seychelles will allow vets to operate on human beings? In the same vein, what will the international investors say when they find out that the Proposed LPA will allow foreign lawyers to practice Seychelles law?
The People pushing for the Proposed LPA argue that many other countries have opened up their borders for foreign lawyers. But these countries have opened up their borders for foreign lawyers to practice foreign law, not the national law. To go back to our doctor v/s vet analogy, what has happened in other countries is that they have allowed the vets to come into their country to practice on dogs, cats and rats, not human beings. The people pushing for the Proposed LPA always fails to mention the above. Probably because they don't understand the distinction.
Most Seychelles lawyers are not against foreign lawyers setting up shop in Seychelles to practice the laws of the jurisdiction that they have qualified in, but to suggest that they practice Seychelles law, be it only within a particular area or otherwise, is ridiculous and unacceptable.
The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (www.geocities.com/ptikoy), the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.