Friday, July 22, 2011

Re-assertion of Authority

The Consultative Committee on reforming companies legislation met on the 7th July 2011 and this time Attorney General Ronny Govinden was present. Notably absent was any representative of the Bar Association.

It was established that OECD pressure led to the formation of the problematic Companies Bill that has been in circulation since early this year and it was confirmed that the Bill was a product of a consultant, at the behest of the Ministry of Finance. It was revealed that the concerns of the OECD can be met with minor amendments to various commercials laws without the need to adopt the much maligned Companies Bill and that the Attorney General's Office, with proper qualified legal draftsmen, will draft the necessary amendments.

It was agreed that stakeholders look into the current Companies Act and the Companies Bill with a view to having a new Companies Bill by early 2012.

Noteworthy was the re-assertion of authority of the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office reminded members of the committee that procedure as laid down by law, must be followed in the drafting of legislation and that this was not done with respect to the Companies Bill, and that it is the Attorney General's Office who is mandated to do the drafting work.

The Attorney General is the legal advisor of the Government. In recent years, many Government departments and para-statal organizations have started doing all sorts of things without taking legal advice, and sometimes by taking legal advice from persons not qualified to give such advice. It is only when the shit hits the fan that they then come running to the Attorney General's Office whose Attorney General and State Counsel are then tasked with trying to clean up the mess. Many lawyers have stated that numerous civil (especially the great number of judicial review cases) and constitutional court cases would never have needed to go to court if the Government had obtained appropriate legal advice.

The recent developments with regards to the re-assertion of authority on the part of the Attorney General's Office is a step in the right direction. It should eventually mean that the courts will not have to be clogged up with cases that shouldn't be there in the first place, it will mean that perhaps the Attorney General's Office should increase its numbers of State Counsel to cater for legal advisory work, which will mean more opportunities for employment for our law graduates and it will eventually lead to a more efficient Government.

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.