National Assembly starts modernisation work on Book Three of Seychelles Civil Code | 11 March 2020
The National Assembly continued its day’s work yesterday by taking up Book Three of the Civil Code. The assembly worked through modernising Book 1, pertaining to birth, recognition, paternity, marriage and divorce and Book 2 of the Civil Code, pertaining to property, in previous sittings.
In attendance were Vice President Vincent Meriton who was accompanied by Attorney General Frank Ally and senior legal draftsperson Victor Pool. The law consultant to the judiciary, professor Tony Angelo joined the Assembly mid-session. Vice President Meriton was taking up the role from former Minister for Health Jean Paul Adam.
Honourable Bernard Georges as a legal expert led the deliberations explaining Book Three, the longest Book of the Civil Code, spanning from Article 711 to Article 2200, covering Transfer of ownership and other matters.
He proposed the Assembly work through modernising the Book, in a bid to produce a Civil Code that is up to date and in line with the English legal system (containing sub-sections), over the next three days starting off with Article 711 property succession, gifts, wills and prescription, handle property, co-ownership and contracts and prescription and the rest, “Lawyer’s Law” on the third day.
The assembly approved, with no amendments, Articles 711 to 717 pertaining to Transfer of Ownership and covering Succession, gifts, donations and testaments, the transfer or acquisition of property through succession or inheritance, through a gift inter vivos, donation, testament, obligation, contract and legislation, for instance the Acquisition of Land in the Public Interest Act. The chapter also covers ownership of property through accession, incorporation, by prescription or by creation of property for instance reclaimed land while Article 713 pertains to treasure.
Succession was taken up next by the assembly, and Honourable Georges from the onset suggested there may be amendments, most notably relating to Article 718 (ii) which states that Succession opens where the person had a domicile which is not necessarily a residence. Therefore, if a Seychellois is domiciled in Australia at the time of death, the law of Melbourne applies. Article 721 pertains to Executors.
Attorney General Ally clarified a provision under Article 725 which categorises a person who has murdered their parents or has criminally and intentionally caused the death of a parent, and Article 726 which was removed pertaining to persons who are unworthy of inheriting, which stipulates that if a person who has made an accusation against the deceased of a defamatory nature about a capital offence, is disallowed from inheriting.
The assembly deliberated on the provisions proposing the wording as restrictive and proposing that the provisions be enlarged to encompass more circumstances in which persons should be disallowed from inheriting. However, Honourable Georges noted that there will be a safeguard in the revised Civil Code, citing Testamentary Freedom, and thereby recommending that the assembly keeps Article 726 as a limited category.
Deliberations spilled over into Testamentary Freedom and the possibilities of coercion and duress where there is Testamentary Freedom.
Honourable Georges also took the assembly through Article 731 on who can benefit from a succession, Article 739 pertaining to representation which again raised questions from the members, most notably as to the rightful beneficiaries in the instance that both a spouse and a partner, and Article 745.
The assembly continued through the afternoon by covering Article 746, through to Article 814, making minor amendments to the provisions, and voted to approve as amended Articles 718 to Articles 814 pertaining to Succession by 16 votes.
With regards to the Co-ownership section, for which provisions can be found in Articles 814 onwards, deliberations continued leading Honourable Georges and AG Ally to warn against widening the provisions while other members sought clarifications as to how the provisions apply to real-life situations and scenarios.
The assembly will resume with its deliberations on the provisions of the Civil Code pertaining to co-ownership and vote on the provisions in today’s sitting, under the Speakership of Deputy Speaker Ahmed Afif.