Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interim Bar Association Website Now Online

In late July 2009, the Bar Association of Seychelles ("BAS") announced that it planned to launch its website by the end of October 2009. To that end, the BAS has launched its interim website.

This can be viewed at

The Seychelles Legal Environment ("SLE") is presently the only informative online legal resource on Seychelles, the website of the BAS would complement the purpose of the SLE to help educate the public on the Seychelles legal scene.

The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (, the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Former Chief Justice Perera appointed law commissioner

Today, the Nation announced that former Chief Justice Ranjan Perera had been appointed to the newly created post of Law Commissioner.

He will be tasked with causing to be published an up to date and complete volume of the Laws of Seychelles. There has been no single complete volume published since 1996.

The Law Commissioner may also recommend statutory law reform, hopefully, after consultation with the various and relevant stakeholders.

The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (, the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende ushers in era of Judicial Reform

In the traditional speech delivered by the Chief Justice at the opening of the Supreme Court, newly appointed Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende this morning spoke at length on the need for judicial reform.

The opening of the Supreme Court is marked with a mass, alternating yearly from the Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals in Victoria. This year, the mass took place at the Anglican Cathedral - St. Paul's. Bishop Wiehe delivered the surmon and he spoke for transgressors to be punished, but also for them to be reformed.

This was followed by the procession, whereby the judges, magistrate, attorneys, state counsels, public prosecutors and judicial staff, in full courtroom attire, marched from St. Paul's Cathedral to the Supreme Court premises. Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende inspected the all- female guard of honour and greeted all the judicial officers present. Everyone then crowded into Courtroom no. 1 for the Chief Justice's speech. Also present were the President of the Court of Appeal Mr Francis MacGregor; Justices of Appeal Mr Jacques Hodoul and Mr Anthony Fernando, the Chairman of the Constitutional Appointments Authority Mr Jeremy Bonnelame, the Attorney General Mr Ronny Govinden and certain diplomatic figures.

The theme of Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende's speech was that of judicial reform. He mentioned the poor perception of the public, both locally and abroad, of the judiciary. He admitted that the views he has received represents only a fraction of society, but that the views appear to be unanimous. The perception of the public on the judiciary is wholely negative. The public sees the judiciary as inefficient and susceptible to external influence. He admitted that this is but a perception, and that that may not be in line with reality, but he added that the public's perception of the judiciary also needs to be addressed. He noted guidance on the way forward can be taken from our Constitution.

He proposed the creation of a court users committee comprising of representatives of various organisations of civil society, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Bar Association, which could consult directly with the judiciary with the aim of improving the service provided by the judiciary to the public at large.

He spoke of the mounting number of cases, both criminal and civil and noted that many more cases were being filed in court than that being disposed off. He stated that in order to deal with the case load there is a need for more Puisne Judges and more Magistrates. He stated such judicial officers should be sourced locally, for sustainable capacity. He noted that there is a need to improve the morale and job satisfaction of court staff and stated that one manner in which this may be addressed is through the increase in court staff salaries. He also mentioned that the judiciary should become financially independent, that the judiciary should have a closer reach of parliament in addressing its budget.

He spoke of the need for the improvement of the transcribing of court proceedings. He stated that the current equipment used and the current process is unacceptable. He pointed out that there were court proceedings over 2 years old that were yet to be transcribed. He proposed the bringing in of new equipment, especially that of multiple channel recording equipment, which would facilitate the process of transcribing court proceedings. He noted that this was a reason to delays.

Also with regards to delays in the court process, he noted that there were civil cases from 1998 that were still pending and criminal cases from 2000. He noted that there were numerous reasons for the delays but that one element was that of how easily cases can be adjourned. He spoke of trial date certainty and proposed that parties be penalised through costs for seeking adjournments, he admitted that there may be a need for legislative reform to usher this in. He stated that many civil matters could be settled out of court but for the fact that certain parties knew that they could take advantage of a slow judicial process. He reasoned that a speedier court process would encourage litigants to settle out of court.

He stated that he has been assured by the President of the Republic, James Michel, that he will be able to do his job without interference, and that the judiciary will be able to function independently and impartially. He noted that the independence of the judiciary is safeguarded and enshrined in the Constitution.

He ended his speech with a poem whose theme was the apparent impossibility of a task and of how everyone around you may state and firmly believe that a task was impossible to achieve, but that one had to at least try to achieve it. He asked for all stakeholders to work together to help reform the judiciary and stated that there is a lot of work to be done.

His speech was greeted with applause, which was against convention.

Thereafter, at the reception held at the court premises, many members of the Bar expressed that they were impressed with the Chief Justice's speech and hoped that he can effect the reforms he proposed. However, certain cynics believed that, however well intentioned Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende is, he will not be able to reform the judiciary alone.

Nevertheless, one member of the Bar quipped that, after a long while, Seychelles will have an independent judiciary once again. Another retorted that perhaps the Seychelles is only getting an independent Chief Justice.

The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (, the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Supreme Court Re-Opening Tomorrow

The Supreme Court of Seychelles re-opens tomorrow. This is usually heralded with a procession in Victoria. Judges and lawyers in full court attire will stroll along from St. Paul's Cathedral to the Supreme Court of Seychelles.

The event will start with mass at St. Paul's Cathedral at 9am. The procession will start thereafter, and this is likely to be at around 10am.

Since his arrival last month, the new Chief Justice has met with various stakeholders, including the Bar Association of Seychelles, and he has undertaken to do his best to improve upon the functioning and image of the judiciary. The opening ceremony is also marked with a speech from the Chief Justice and many will be very interested to hear what the new Chief Justice has to say.

The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (, the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.