How are proceedings regulated
Proceedings before the Magistrates Court are regulated by the Seychelles Criminal Procedure Code and the Courts Act (Magistrate Court rules).
The Evidence Act applies to all cases before the Court however the Courts can be more flexible when it comes to the procedure of taking the evidence of vulnerable witnesses.
How does a case come before the Magistrates’ Court
The Criminal process:
The police are in charge of investigating cases and may decide as a result of an investigation that they wish to remand a suspect in custody for a period of 24 hours. Any extension of time can be granted by the Court and must be brought in the form of an Application supported by an Affidavit of fact.
Alternatively, once the police have completed their investigation they will submit the case file to the Attorney General’s Chambers who then takes the decision whether or not to prosecute a case. Once a decision is taken to prosecute a Prosecutor will be assigned to the case.
The Attorney General’s Chambers has the discretion to decide before which Court to bring a case and whether or not a person is charged before the the Magistrates’ Court depend on the gravity the offence and the sentencing powers of the Court.
The Civil Process:
All civil claims under SR 250,000/- in value can be heard by a Magistrate and SR 350,000/- by a Senior Magistrate. All claims are brought via plaint and can be filed by a lawyer or claimant in person.
The kind of criminal cases that go to the Magistrates’ Court
The Magistrates’ Court hears criminal cases for which a Magistrate can impose a maximum of 18 years imprisonment and in the case of a fine SR 125,000/-. For the Senior Magistrate 25 years imprisonment and in the case of a fine SR 250,000/-.
Types of offences include offences against a person (assault, grievous harm) Offences against morality (Sexual assault, indecent acts) stealing related offences, drug possession, traffic and environmental related offences.
Why would a criminal case be referred to the Supreme Court rather than the Magistrates’ Court?
Some cases are referred to the Supreme Court due to the severity of the offence and the limited sentencing powers of the Magistrates Court. For example, Sexual offences which involve penetration, or involve blackmailing and coercion are often heard before the Supreme Court. The same is true for drug trafficking and importation cases for which more severe sentences are sought.
The Magistrates’ Courts deal with lower value civil claims and less serious criminal cases. The Magistrates’ Court has a civil and criminal division. You can choose to represent yourself or you can choose to be represented by a lawyer.
The Magistrates’ Courts of Seychelles falls under the administration of the Supreme Court.
Term dates: The Magistrates’ Court sits all year except during the Christmas vacation from 10th December to 10th January.
Monthly sittings are also held on Praslin and La Digue. There are six magistrates, five in Victoria and one in Anse Royale. Two of these are senior magistrates who have greater sentencing powers. Magistrates hear cases by themselves. They are all legally trained and they are appointed by the Minister of Legal Affairs.
Appeal: If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your case, you may appeal to the Supreme Court. You must:
1 – Lodge your Notice of Appeal, in writing, with the Supreme Court Registrar within 14 days
2 – Lodge your memorandum of appeal within 14 days after filing the notice of appeal
|The cases are limited to less serious crimes with punishments up to:
|Those cases are limited to subject matter and value of the claim:
25 years’ imprisonment (by Senior Magistrates)
SR 250,000 fine
10 years’ imprisonment (by Senior Magistrates)
SR 350,000 claim
18 years’ imprisonment (by Junior Magistrates)
SR 125,000 fine
7 years’ imprisonment (by Junior Magistrates)
SR 250,000 claim