In a letter addressed to the Policy and Strategy Division of the Ministry of Finance dated today, the Bar Association of Seychelles ("BAS") made known its position on the Proposed Companies Bill 2011. BAS called on the Government to reject the bill "in its entirety".
BAS states that the policy changes with regards to domestic companies appears to be unsubstantiated and that the bill seeks to change not only the "existing company laws, but also established and entirely separate areas of the law...". BAS goes on to state that the bill seeks to encroach upon the acquired rights and predetermined obligations of individuals and not only companies. BAS goes on to state that if the bill is enacted as is, "its effect and consequences would have wide ranging and negative repercussions."
BAS went on to state that the exercise of company law reform should be done in wider consultation with lawyers and other stakeholders and should not be the ambit of "a select few individuals".
Already the word is out that those in high positions in Government are now considering opening a dialogue with BAS and the wider community. What is sad about all of this is that open dialogue should have been the very first step in any exercise to amend such an important area of the law such as a country's company laws.
The only way that the public can be certain that there is sincere attempt for company law reform is if the Government rejects this woeful Companies Bill 2011 and its accompanying white paper from SIBA and start from scratch, but this time, with the involvement of all of the stakeholders, and this includes the public at large.
The first step would be to decide on what needs changing or improvement with regards to our current laws. Only then should a policy paper be drawn. And once this is put to the public, only then should any amendments or new pieces of legislation be drawn up.
SIBA should also be investigated. Domestic company laws, laws on capacity, laws on pledges are areas of the law that are none of their concern (and areas of the law that the bill sought to change). How come SIBA are drawing up policy papers on these areas of the law? How come SIBA has come up with an almost 400 page Companies Bill? Did they use Government funds to produce these documents? Are they using parastatal employees to do work on these documents, which are outside of their functioning area (basically incorporating international business companies)? Should the Ombudsman investigate SIBA? Should the President look into the affairs and the composition of the board of SIBA? SIBA should be concentrating on doing something concerning the laws that they have already messed up such as laws on the mutual funds and the securities industry (hey where's that stock market that was supposed to be up and running 3 years ago?) instead of messing up other areas of the law that are none of their concern.
The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (sites.google.com/site/theseychelleslegalenvironment), the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.