Seychelles’ former chief justice launches “A Practical Approach to Evidence for Judicial Officers”
The book is written by Dr Mathilda Twomey, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles and currently a judge of the Court of Appeal, together with her colleagues from the University of Cape Town. (Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A new manual for judicial officers concerning African common law, aimed at judges, lawyers, and law students, has been launched by a Court of Appeal judge and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles.
“A Practical Approach to Evidence for Judicial Officers,” which was written by Dr Mathilda Twomey and her colleagues at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was launched on Friday at the Palais de Justice, Ile du Port, in the presence of President Wavel Ramkalawan, who received a copy.
In an interview with the press, Twomey shared that the book will not only benefit judges when listening to a case but also "lawyers and law students in Seychelles, especially now that the University of Seychelles has launched its new degree on the law of Seychelles."
"The manual addresses evidence law, something that Seychellois would appreciate learning more about. Many of them have exposure to the court but they do not understand when for example, a judge says they cannot accept a piece of certain evidence. There are certain rules that we need to follow. The book is more of a manual. What we did was choose more important topics that a judge can refer to when listening to a case," said Twomey.
|Justice Mathilda Twomey at the book launch (Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation) All Rights Reserved|
She outlined that in her role as a trial judge in Seychelles, one of the difficulties she encountered was resolving challenges to the admissibility of evidence as quickly as they arose.
"This was important to ensure that trials proceeded efficiently yet fairly. Pre-trial hearings help ensure compliance with discovery rules and reduce the risk of challenges to evidence adduced by parties at trial. However, I always wished for a quick 'go-to' manual to speedily resolve issues that could not be foreseen and arose during the trial," she continued.
Aside from being a judge in Seychelles, Twomey is also the academic director of the Judicial Institute for Africa (JIFA) at the University of Cape Town, which is a partnership between the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) and the Southern African Chief Justices Forum (SACJF).
She shared her concerns with other judges in Seychelles and other African common-law jurisdictions she has met through her work at the University of Cape Town. Twomey outlined that though the countries share the same inherited laws of procedure from the United Kingdom, most of the jurisdictions were mixed, incorporating common law, civil law - French or Roman-Dutch law, Islamic law, and customary law.
The manual came to life through collaborative help from Twomey's colleagues - Joelle Barnes, Michelle Ebrahim, and Jocelyne Hackett – at the University and in consultation with researchers throughout 13 African countries that have sources in common law. These countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"We had developed our own rules of procedure through enactments and through our own respective case law, especially after independence. A comparative approach to evidence between our different jurisdictions, when difficulties arose, would not only light the way forward and lighten our load but also inspire us to adapt original sources to our respective local circumstances," she explained.