With the backlash from the lawyers and accountants on the previous Companies Bill 2011 which was being circulated earlier this year, the Government decided to create a Company Law Consultative Committee whose mandate was supposed to look into improving upon our company laws.
The committee met last week (8 June 2011) and present were representatives from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) (headed by Mr Rupert Simeon), SIBA (headed by Mr Steve Fanny), SAOPRA (Mr Conrad Benoiton), Chamber of Commerce (Mr Clifford Andre), the Attorney General's Office (Mrs Lali & Mrs Samantha Aglae), the Association of Seychelles Accountants (Mr Richardson) and the Bar Association of Seychelles (BAS) (Mr Conrad Lablache). A nice little collection of representatives from a wider group of interested stakeholders. But that's as good as it got.
Chairing the meeting was the chief representative of the MoF, Mr Rupert Simeon, who basically declared that the committee will have to work on a new draft Companies Bill 2011 which has already been drafted, and which is in fact substantially the same as the one circulated earlier in the year. The very same draft that everyone was against, the very same draft that caused the Government to create the committee in the first place. The MoF rep informed the other members of the committee that the committee will proceed to work on company law reform based entirely on that draft bill.
This "new" Bill still envisions the eradication of the proprietary company as a corporate entity. It still seeks to interfere with other areas of the law that are the preserve of our Civil Code. Our current Companies Act 1972 was drafted with the assistance of the world renowned Professor Pennington (yes, the one who wrote the company law textbook) and now we're getting a new Companies Bill drafted by people nowhere near the academic credentials of Pennington. People who can't draft to the standard of qualified draftsmen. People who have far weaker academic credentials than our very own lawyers and accountants. It's our lawyers who have degrees from highly regarded universities such as Cambridge University and the University of London (LSE included). It's our lawyers who qualified from the Inns of Court School of Law as Barristers. Our accountants are ICAEW Chartered Accountants and ACCA Certified Chartered Accountants. Yet our professionals are ignored and Professor Pennington's Companies Act is mocked by foreigners with their own personal agendas.
In a letter from its Chairman, Mr Antony Derjacques, addressed to the AG and other committee members, the Bar Association of Seychelles has decided to stop taking part in this sham process.
It's a shame that those responsible for this committee could not adopt the open dialogue approach taken recently by Ministry of Employment with regards to employment law reform. The Bar Association of Seychelles was so impressed with the Ministry of Employment's approach that it even wrote about it on its website (click here to view).
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.