The Judiciary of Seychelles


13-January-2018

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The Judiciary of the Seychelles draws its judicial authority from Chapter VIII of the Constitution of Seychelles and consists of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Seychelles and such other subordinate courts or tribunals established by an Act pursuant to article 137 of the Constitution. The following courts and tribunals are also part of the Judiciary: the Magistrates’ Courts established under the Courts Act 21 of 1964, the Family Tribunal and Juvenile Courts established under the Children Act 16 of 1982, the Employment Tribunal established under the Employment Act 2 of 1995, and the Rent Board established by the Control of Rent and Tenancy Agreements Act 5 of 1955.

 

The Court of Appeal is administered by the President of the Court of Appeal and has four Justices of Appeal appointed by the Constitutional Appointments Authority. It sits from time to time throughout the year, and has three two-week sessions in April, August and December respectively during which all five Justices of Appeal take hearings sitting as benches of three or five and deliver rulings together. It has the jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from the Supreme Court and any other appeal permitted by an Act.

 

 

 

The Supreme Court is administered by the Chief Justice and has seven puisne Judges and a Master who are appointed by the Constitutional Appointments Authority to exercise judicial functions at the Supreme Court level. The Supreme Court has original power under the Constitution to hear and determine civil and criminal matters, supervisory jurisdiction over other courts and Tribunals, and original and appellate jurisdiction as granted to it by any Act.

 

Judges of the Supreme Court may be co-opted to the Court of Appeal at the request of the President of the Court of Appeal to sit on specific cases where the Court of Appeal requires it.

 

Chief Justice Twomey is appointed by the Constitutional Appointments Authority as both a puisne judge and a Justice of Appeal however she is only salaried for the position as Chief Justice.

 

 

 

The Supreme Court sits daily during three terms or sessions in the year which are held from 10th January through 10th April, 10th May through 31st July and 1st September through 10th December as determined by the Supreme Court (Terms) Rule, 2016. Individual Judges may agree to sit during the court vacation periods to hear and determine matters which require extraordinary sittings. During the court vacation there is a duty Judge who is available to take urgent matters arising. All other court functions continue during the court vacations.

 

 

 

The Constitutional Court is constituted when two or more Judges sit together to determine cases which concern the application, contravention, enforcement or interpretation of the Constitution. Constitutional Court cases are usually held on Tuesdays during the Supreme Court session, however the Judges on the Constitutional Court bench may schedule to hear the matter on any day.

 

 

 

There are five appointed magistrates who hold sittings in Victoria and Anse Royale and on Praslin and La Digue. The courtrooms in Victoria sit all year with a court vacation during the Supreme Court vacation. During 2016 the court rooms in Anse Royale and La Digue were reopened and presently the same magistrate who has sittings in Anse Royale sits on Praslin and La Digue for one week of each month.

 

 

 

The Rent Board is chaired by a magistrate and has three members. Rent Board cases are administered by the Assistant Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court, Victoria and sittings take place one day a week, at the Victoria Magistrates’ Court.

 

 

 

The Family Tribunal is chaired by a Chairperson and two vice-chairpersons and has six members (two are full-time). The Family Tribunal sits three days a week at the Victoria Magistrates’ Court. It is administered by the Secretary for the Family Tribunal and has its own compliance, monitoring and enforcement officers.

 

 

 

The Juvenile Court is administered by the Victoria Magistrates’ Court and is chaired by a magistrate sitting with at least two persons. Sittings take place twice a month.

 

 

 

The Employment Tribunal functions from the Supreme Court Annexe on Ile du Port. It is chaired by a Chairperson and a vice-chairperson and has six members. The Employment Tribunal sits four days per week. It is administered by a Secretary for the Employment Tribunal and a secretariat which manages registry matters.

 

 

 

The administration of the Judiciary as a whole is overseen by the Chief Justice with the Registrar appointed to oversee the courtroom processes and statutory functions and a central administration to address all other functions.

 

 

 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE JUDICIARY

 

 

 

In February 2017, the Judiciary launched and signed up to a strategic plan which would span four years – 2017 to 2020. The strategic plan, titled Vision 2020 was the output of a process of consultation with stakeholders on the successes of the Judiciary’s previous strategic plan, its current position and its aspirations.

 

The Vision 2020 sought to build on the successes of the previous strategic plan and maintained the eight strategic imperatives of the former strategic plan, adopting its unachieved outcomes and additional updated goals.

 

Achievement of the strategic plan will be ensured through a layered system of accountability. The Office of the Chief Justice will oversee the roll out of the plan. Special committees are set up to oversee specific topics and individual sections are responsible for implementing the plan within their own sectors. The strategic plan will be reviewed annually.

 

 

 

VISION OF THE JUDICIARY

 

The Judiciary’s vision is to be a dynamic institution with contented staff working together to promote fewer litigious disputes and faster case resolution by offering high quality, fit for purpose solutions for court users.

 

 

 

MISSION OF THE JUDICIARY

 

The Judiciary’s mission is to effectively and competently administer justice in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Seychelles in a timely, impartial and independent manner.

 

 

 

CORE VALUES

 

The Judiciary is committed to working for excellence in every task we do, maintaining our independence as the third branch of the state and watchdog of the Constitution, and at all times acting with integrity, maintaining a high standard of ethics, treating all persons with respect and showing professionalism.

 

 

 

STRATEGIC IMPERATIVES     

 

The Judiciary has committed itself to the same eight strategic focus areas as had been adopted in the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan. These are:

 

1. Streamlining Court Processes

 

2.  Innovating Case Administration Solutions

 

3. Revamping the legal aid scheme

 

4. Encouraging better employee relations

 

5. Repositioning the public image

 

6. Upgrading basic infrastructure

 

7. Engaging local partners

 

8. Securing greater financial autonomy

 

 

 

 

 

THE SEYCHELLES JUDICIAL SYSTEM 2016/2017

 

 

 

COURT OF APPEAL

 

 

 

The Court of Appeal bade a fond farewell to Justice Satyadhooshun Domah and Justice January Msoffe during 2017, both of whom had completed their appointed tenure on the Court. Justice Bernadin Renaud was appointed to the Court of Appeal in May 2017 and Justice Fiona Robinson in September 2017.

 

Mrs Situmbeko Masialeti was recruited as a legal researcher for the Court of Appeal in 2016.

 

 

 

SUPREME COURT

During 2016 the Supreme Court recruited Judge Seegobin Nunkoo, a Mauritian legal expert with particular insight into investigations of financial crime and mixed jurisdictions and Judge Melchior Vidot, who had previously performed the role of Registrar/Master of the Supreme Court, joined from private practice.

 

Ms Anne Kautsky was recruited to be the Judiciary’s first dedicated Public Relations and Communications Officer. In January 2016, a new system was introduced to enable more efficient production of court records and to ensure that work is fairly balanced between court reporters. It was introduced to address concerns about court proceedings which were over 6 months old and which had not been typed. The project was overseen by the Registrar working with two senior court reporters and exceeded expectations by completing the outstanding proceedings within three months of the introduction of the system.

 

In 2017 the Judiciary saw the departures of Judges Crawford McKee and Dan Akiiki-Kiiza, who had been seconded by the Commonwealth of Nations to assist with Seychelles’ Supreme Court’s chronic case backlog for the previous three years. Both Judges brought a calmness and professionalism to their roles. They were especially instrumental in their roles on constitutional panels, including the Election Petitions of 2015 when their international experience brought particularly valuable insight to the bench.

 

Judges Rony Govinden, and Laura Pillay were appointed to the Supreme Court during 2017. Each appointee brought a wealth of knowledge and experience coming from a role as the Attorney General and a senior magistrate respectively.

 

The Supreme Court instituted a more active approach to case management in both civil and criminal matters which is designed to ensure trial certainty and greater preparedness for trial. In this respect cases which are older than 2013 are regarded as backlog and receive priority in terms of listing. The Judiciary is committed to ensuring that it is able to efficiently hear and complete cases and this can be seen by the tangible results over the past two years.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

 

The Constitutional Court was taken up with matters of international importance in both 2016 and 2017. During 2016 many cases concerned issues related to elections. During 2017 the bulk of the cases concerned land acquisitions and the appointment and discipline of constitutional actors. The Court takes cases on Tuesdays which continues to work as an allocated day for such cases.

 

 

 

MAGISTRATES’ COURTS

 

The Magistrates’ Courts saw a significant amount of change during the two year period covered. The regional magistrates’ courts on La Digue and Anse Royale were reopened during 2016. Mrs Jessica Kerr was appointed in April 2016 and took up the role at the Anse Royale courthouse, as well as on La Digue.

 

In 2017, Kishnan Labonte was appointed to the National Drugs Enforcement Agency after a diligent service at the Magistrates’ Court. His calm efficiency and affable personality are sorely missed.

 

Senior Magistrate Laura Pillay was appointed a Supreme Court Judge, leaving the hallways of Unity House quieter and infecting the Supreme Court complex with her laughter and a plethora of pot plants. Mr George Robert left the Magistrates’ Court in May in order to travel to Australia to undertake a Masters Degree. Magistrate Jessica Kerr departed to Italy in September 2017 for family reasons and will accompany her husband in 2018 in his new role as a lecturer at the University of Western Australia and to pursue her own career.

 

The Judiciary recruited and welcomed Mr Andy Asba and Mrs Natasha Burian as magistrates in Victoria and Mr Vipin Benjamin as a senior magistrate in Anse Royale.

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL   

 

 During  2016  the  Employment  Tribunal  relocated  to  the  Supreme  Court  Annex  which strengthens the perception of its independence from the Ministry of Employment and it completes the transition of the Tribunal from the Ministry to the supervision of the Judiciary.

 

Mr  Michel  Valentin  was  promoted  to  Secretary  of  the  Tribunal  in  May  2016  and Ms. Alexandra  Madeleine  was  appointed  as  the  vice-chairperson  in  2017  to  replace Mr. George Robert upon his departure.

 

The Employment Tribunal remains a very busy tribunal with protracted and emotive hearings. The Tribunal continues to sit four times a week in order to meet the demand for its services. The Supreme Court Annex is well suited to housing the Employment Tribunal.

 

 

 

FAMILY TRIBUNAL

 

The Family Tribunal is chaired by Magistrate Andy Asba who was previously appointed together with Mrs Natasha Burian as vice-chairpersons during 2016. He was appointed as chairperson in 2017, with the promotion of Judge Pillay to the Supreme Court, and the appointment of Mr Asba and Mrs Burian to the Magistrates’ Court. Mrs Burian remains the vice-chairperson along with Mrs Samantha Aglae who was recently appointed in 2017.

 

Mr Robert Georges resigned from the Family Tribunal after serving on it for many years. Mrs Josette Thélermont retired from the Family Tribunal in 2017 after a long and committed service to the Judiciary. She is replaced by Ms Jane Marguerite.

 

 

 

The Chairpersons of the Family Tribunal have put in place structures to ensure the better management of the court diary and have pushed to ensure that fewer delays are faced by litigants. It remains the busiest court in Seychelles and will be looking to expand its capacity during the coming years. The recent legislative changes permitting a higher number of members and greater independence will facilitate the work of the Tribunal and are welcomed.

 

RENT BOARD       

 

The Rent Board, during 2016 was chaired by Magistrate Robert and on his departure Magistrate Burian has assumed the chairmanship. She has introduced a full day sitting on a Friday to facilitate the clearing of backlogged applications and to ensure better continuity in hearings.

 

The Rent Board faces difficulties with staffing due to the overlap of appointment procedures with the Ministry for Habitat, Infrastructure and Land Transport. The Rent Board consists of dedicated and experienced board members whose ongoing commitment is under-recognised and under-remunerated. The Judiciary remains committed during 2018 to addressing these resourcing constraints.

 

 

 

JUVENILE COURT

 

The Juvenile Court previously chaired by Magistrate Labonte is now headed by Magistrate Ng’hwani and consists of four other members. It deals with important cases against persons under 18 years old who are charged with criminal offences.

 

It presently sits twice a month, but in view of the fact that the cases involve serious charges against children, efforts are underway to increase the frequency of sittings in order to prioritise these cases.

 

 

 

REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE OF THE JUDICIARY

 

The Judiciary has seen great strides achieved in the past two years with an enhanced financing of the scheme of service and increased budget to recruit administrative support staff.  The support of the Ministry of Finance has been instrumental in enabling the Judiciary to increase its capacity. The Judiciary now looks forward to achieving financial autonomy in 2018.

 

The Judiciary has focused the spending of its resources on the infrastructure and facilities, security of its officers and training for judicial officers and support staff. These continue to be areas of need. Rental of premises for the Magistrates’ Courts and Family Tribunal remains a financial drain on the resources and will be addressed in the building of a Magistrates’ Court in the Palais de Justice grounds which is projected to commence in 2018.

 

 

 

JUDICIAL OFFICERS

 

COURT OF APPEAL

 

The Court of Appeal consists of:

 

- Justice F. MacGregor, President of the Court of Appeal

 

- Justice A. Fernando

 

- Chief Justice M. Twomey

 

- Justice B. Renaud

 

- Justice F. Robinson

 

Assistant Registrar of the Court of Appeal: Mrs Vivienne Vadivello

 

 

 

PHOTOS

 

 

 

Caption:

 

Court of Appeal Judges, December 2017

 

 

 

SUPREME COURT

 

The Supreme Court consists of:

 

- Chief Justice M. Twomey

 

-Judge M. Burhan

 

- Judge R. Govinden

 

- Judge G. Dodin

 

- Judge S. Govinden

 

- Judge S. Nunkoo

 

- Judge M. Vidot

 

-Judge L. Pillay

 

- Master E. Carolus

 

 

 

PHOTOS

 

 

 

Caption:

 

Supreme Court Judges, December 2017

 

 

 

Registrar of the Supreme Court: Mrs. J. Esticot

 

Deputy Registrar: Mrs. J. Lepathy

 

Assistant Registrars: Ms. M-A Barbe (Criminal), Mrs. S. Andre (Civil and Commercial)

 

 

 

MAGISTRATES’ COURTS

 

The Magistrates’ Court consists of:

 

- Mr Brassel Adeline, senior magistrate

 

- Mr Vipin Benjamin, senior magistrate

 

- Mrs Mariam Ng’hwani, magistrate

 

- Mr Andy Asba, magistrate

 

- Mrs Natasha Burian, magistrate

 

 

 

Assistant registrars for the Magistrates’ Court: Ms E. Aglae and Ms K. Quatre

 

 

 

PHOTOS

 

Caption:

 

 

 

Magistrates, December 2017

 

 

 

RENTBOARD

 

TheRent Boardis chaired byMrs N. Burian whosits with the followingmembersMr O.  Delcy,Mrs M.Josephineand Mrs F.Afif.

 

JUVENILE COURT

 

TheJuvenileCourtis chairedby Mrs M. Nghwaniwho sitswiththe members ofthe JuvenileCourt, Mr O. Delcy, MrsC. de Commarmond, Mrs R. M. Elizabeth, and MrA. Valmont.

 

FAMILYTRIBUNAL

 

TheFamily Tribunal is chaired byMr AndyAsba withMrs N. Burianand Mrs S.Aglaeas vice-chairpersons. Othertribunalmembersare:

 

Mrs L. Cedras                      FullTimeBoard Member

 

Mr V.Atala                          FullTimeBoard Member

 

Mrs S. Evenor                       Part TimeBoardMember

 

Mrs E.Gay                            Part TimeBoard Member

 

MrR. Moumou                    Part TimeBoard Member

 

MrJ.Hollanda                     Part TimeBoard Member

 

 

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENTTRIBUNAL

 

 

 

The   Employment   Tribunal   is   chaired   by   Sen.   Magistrate   Brassel   Adeline,   with MrsA.Madeleine    as    vice-chairperson.    Other    appointed    tribunal    members    are: Ms V. Bresson,Mr F.Charles,MrsW.Didon,MrR.Henriette,Mrs J.Moustacheand MrPNicette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ADD STRUCTURE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COURT LOCATIONS

 

Court of Appeal

 

First floor, Palais de Justice

 

Ile Du Port, Mahé

 

4224078

 

 

 

Supreme Court

 

Palais de Justice

 

Ile Du Port, Mahé

 

4285800

 

 

 

Magistrates’ Courts Victoria

 

Block A, Third Floor

 

Unity House, Victoria, Mahé

 

4288702

 

 

 

Magistrates’ Court Anse Royale

 

Courthouse Building

 

Anse Royale, Mahé

 

4285817

 

 

 

Magistrate’s Court Praslin

 

Pension Fund Building

 

Grand Anse, Praslin

 

 

 

Magistrate’s Court La Digue

 

Court house, La Passe

 

La Digue

 

 

 

Family Tribunal

 

Block A Third Floor

 

Unity House, Victoria, Mahé

 

4288705

 

* Please note the Family Tribunal will be moving to the Supreme Court Annex in January 2018.

 

 

 

Employment Tribunal

 

Supreme Court Annex

 

Ile Du Port, Mahé

 

4285826

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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