Know Your Rights – The Magistrates Court |23 December 2020
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 Magistrates Court depends on the gravity the offence and the sentencing powers of the Court.
The Civil Process:
All civil claims under R250,000 in value can be heard by a Magistrate and R350,000 by a Senior Magistrate. All claims are brought via plaint and can be filed by a lawyer or claimant in person.
What kind of criminal cases go through 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 R125,000. For the Senior Magistrate 25 years imprisonment and in the case of a fine R250,000.
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?
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 December 10 to January 10.
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 for 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
Contributed by the Judiciary of Seychelles