Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shortage of Legal Professionals?

A Tanzanian online news website - The Citizen, has reported that the Seychelles Judiciary intends to source for judges and lawyers from Tanzania. The article may be read by clicking here.

The article states that Seychelles intends to bring in Tanzanian legal personnel to help in its fight against piracy. The article quotes Seychelles Chief Justice Egonda-Ntende as stating that Seychelles needs more judges. However, the source for the need for more lawyers is not stated.

Recently, the Nation advertised vacancies for two Magistrates. The Robing Room has also learned that several attorneys have been approached for these posts but most, if not all, have not shown serious interest. Although the salary of Magistrates have become more competitive, their work schedule is hectic and they do not have much of the perks that most, if not all judges and justices are allowed e.g. car and chauffeur, apparent unlimited fuel allowance, security personnel. Some attorneys are also concerned that there is no guarantee of any career progression were they to accept a post of a Magistrate. It has been noted that the very best Magistrates, especially those that show independence from the executive, are never elevated to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.

With regards to lawyers, there are strict rules prescribed by law on being able to practice in Seychelles. Apart from three very particular circumstances (the ad hoc court advocate, the State Counsel/Public Prosecutor and the distasteful international business legal advisor), one will have to possess the necessary qualifications and undergo a two year pupillage at an approved law chamber in order to qualify as an attorney-at-law and practice law in Seychelles. There can be no short-cuts on the law when it comes to qualifying. No other country allows it. And it would be another poorly planned venture of the Government if they sought to change the law to allow foreigners to qualify more easily (or even automatically) as Seychelles attorneys and then simultaneously invest into the University of Seychelles to train tomorrow's attorneys, magistrates and judges, and the Robing Room has learned that there will be about 30 students enrolling into the University of Seychelles' law degree programme (in fact it is the University of London External LLB programme), which is to commence this October. Yep, let's train a large number of lawyers, take up at least 4 years of their lives doing so, and then there'll be no work for them later thanks to all these foreigners.

And some wonder why xenophobia is in the air...

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.


  1. Dear Editor

    Whilst I respect your views concerning government's decision to recruit Tanzanian legal professionals, this does not in my view affect the programme the University of Seychelles is starting in September of this year. As you rightly say, it will take 3 years to formally train them and many more years to get them to become legal professionals. Government and some private companies has committed to recruit all of them. So whilst it is important to raise concerns, I feel it is improper to make such conclusions about the training of Seychellois in the legal profession.

  2. Dear Editor,

    When you say that "there can be no short-cuts on the law when it comes to qualifying. No other country allows it", have you not considered almost every other advanced legal system where it is possible, if qualified in another advanced legal system, to be admitted to the bar of that first legal system. Every offshore jurisdiction with any presence on the world stage allows for this (this includes the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, BVI, Mauritius). Has it also not occured to you that not all lawyers qualified overseas are "foreigners". There are Seychellois who have undertaken rigorous training to qualify in jurisdictions such as the UK and who, without a change in the law, would not feel it worth returning to Seychelles because they would have to start all over again instead of being able to contribute to Seychelles. The work permit system is designed to keep "foreigners" out. The changes to the LPA would merely facilitate an enhancement of the Seychelles legal environment until such time as there are more Seychellois ready to take on the job. When they are ready, it is as simple as not granting work permits to "foreigners".



  3. PJN,

    Please tell us which other "advanced legal system" allows automatic qualification (i.e. without the need to undergo any pupillage,traineeship and/or exams)?

    With regards to a Seychellois that qualified in a foreign jurisdiction who wants to "contribute" to Seychelles, he or she will have to follow the law and qualify appropriately. If one studied the law of the UK, qualified in UK, worked in UK for x number of years, when then did they learn about Seychelles law? Are you advocating allowing this person to give legal advice on Seychelles law without any prior training in it? Would the legal profession regulators of the UK, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, BVI or Mauritius allow a Seychellois or foreign trained lawyer to practice law in their jurisdiction without undergoing any local training? The answer is no.

  4. I am just suggesting that like the Cayman Islands, BVI, Mauritius and Bermuda (the very countries the Seychelles' offshore industry is seeking to compete with) Seychelles should allow, subject to work permit constraints, those qualified in certain jurisdictions to practice certain areas of law where experience of other markets may be useful. I do not think it would, for example, be approporiate to open up areas such as family law, property law or criminal law. Law is evolving. Being a lawyer isn't only about knowing the law, but rather about knowing how to research and apply it. Those qualified in England have just seen a complete overhaul of the corporate legal system in the form of the Companies Act 2006. They will need to learn a completely new set of rules and are equipped through their experience to do so. The same would apply to such individuals wanting to work in Seychelles. Its only an idea and I am by no means trying to cause a fuss but rather to be logical about bringing Seychelles into a position to compete in the offshore markets. I do hope you see that point of view as friendly and not hostile.