The Seychelles Legal System

The Seychelles was first a French colony and then later acceded to the English. The result of this is a mixed jurisdiction legal system. When Seychelles became a British colony, the powers that be kept the substantive civil law as it was, but overhauled the criminal law. Procedure was also anglicized and so to were the laws of evidence, subject to evidential laws inherent in the french civil law.

In effect, the Seychelles Legal System is very similar to the English Legal System except that the English civil law is based on case law developments (common law), whereas our civil law is based on the French Napoleonic Code (we have our very own code - the Civil Code of Seychelles). This means that we do not have tort, trusts, common-law based contract laws. Our Civil Code makes alternative provisions for such. In the place of tort we have delict, and our code has its own contract law provisions, which are very similar to that of the common law, but with a few significant differences. Trusts do not exist, but the Civil Code has provisions for Unjust Enrichment.

Procedural law are English based. There are primary and secondary legislation which sets out the rules of procedure in the courts of Seychelles. Someone schooled in the English bar will be at home with Seychelles procedure. But any new British procedural developments after 1976 may not apply in Seychelles.

One bastion of the English Legal System that we have kept is that of wearing wigs and gowns. All lawyers must wear the bar wig and gown before the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Judges of the Supreme Court wear the bench wig and gown. The Justices of Appeal and Magistrates must wear the gown, but not any wigs.

Page last updated on 26th May 2011.