‘Seychelles plays key role in regional judicial affairs’


22-April-2013

President of the Court of Appeal Francis MacGregor said this on Friday when it surfaced that cases decided here have a bearing in other countries of the region.

He was commenting after the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled an election-related case using a Seychelles Court of Appeal judgment for guidance.

Mr MacGregor said the case brought out another issue which he said had surfaced in our Supreme Court, that of Kenya and in the Court of Appeal.
“There were attempts to either influence the judges by indicating if they ruled in a particular way they would be seen to be biased while some parties had tried to create apprehension in the hope the judges would remove themselves from a case or be swayed in their rulings,” he said.

Talking of links between the judiciaries of the region, he said cases decided here are well documented in South Africa, for example and are on a website in that country where anybody has access.
The ties are historical, he said, noting that appeals against Seychelles courts’ decisions in criminal cases were in the past heard in the East African Court of Appeal, while civil petitions were heard in Mauritius.

“Those ties still exist and this is why you see we sometimes hire judges from those jurisdictions,” he said.
The Court of Appeal – which begins its April hearings today – has judges from Seychelles, Mauritius and Tanzania, as does the Supreme Court, which is headed by Ugandan Fredrick Egonda-Ntende who has presided over judiciary reforms in Europe.

Two of the five judges of the Court of Appeal are non-resident and all judges of the Supreme Court
are ex officio members of the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal convenes in three annual sessions – usually in April, August and December – to hear and determine constitutional, criminal, and civil appeals from decisions of the
Supreme Court. Each session lasts for two weeks, and each appeal is heard by three Justices of Appeal. Usually the court will deliver judgments in all matters heard before it on the last day of
a session. While each member of the court is entitled to deliver a separate judgment, and dissenting opinions are not uncommon, the majority of cases are determined by a single agreed
opinion.

Interlocutory applications to the Court of Appeal can be heard and ruled upon by a single
Justice of Appeal at any time.

The Court of Appeal decision cited in Kenya was one in which it upheld Constitutional Court judge Mohan Burhan’s dissenting judgment in which he said rejected ballot papers should not be counted as votes and therefore the terms ‘votes cast’ should not include rejected votes.
 

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