1984 - The Law Practitioners Act

In 1984, the Law Practitioners Act repealed and replaced the Law Practitioners (Protection) Act, the Law Practitioners (Disciplinary Proceedings) Act, as well as the Attorneys (Admission) Rules 1960. The 1984 Law Practitioners Act is, as at to-day, the governing legislation regulating the three branches of the legal profession including that of Attorneys. Under the Law Practitioners Act to qualify as an Attorney, the candidate must be “the holder of a degree in law awarded by the University of Mauritius of such level as the Council of Legal may prescribe; or the holder of any other degree in law which the Council considers to be of an acceptable level and satisfies the Council of his proficiency in such areas of Mauritian Law as the Council may, having regard to the subjects covered in his degree, determine’ and have passed the appropriate vocational examinations prescribed by the Council. The candidate must also be articled to an attorney who has been in practice for at least 10 years in Mauritius, for a period of not less than one year or in such manner as may be approved by the Council. After fulfilling all the prescribed formalities a certificate of competency is issued. To be admitted to practice as an attorney the candidate must make a written application addressed to the Chief Justice and lodged with the Registrar accompanied by evidence that he is a citizen of Mauritius; is of good character; and holds the above qualifications. A copy of such application is sent to the Attorney-General, the Council of Legal Education and a copy is also posted up at the Supreme Court. Section 7 of the Law Practitioners Act provides that any objections must be made in writing and within 15 days of the posting up. Upon all the formalities being fulfilled the Chief Justice makes an Order for the admission of the applicant and appoints a day for the applicant to appear before the Judge in Bankruptcy and Master and Registrar. On the appointed day the applicant is presented by a Law Officer to the Judge in Bankruptcy and Master and Registrar after which the applicant and after the applicant takes an oath of office and his name is entered on the Roll of practicing attorneys. The rank and standing of an attorney, and his authority to practise law, shall take effect from the day on which his name has been entered on the Roll. The Law Practitioners Act also provides for disciplinary measures against attorneys in connection with complaints in connection with an act done by an attorney in the exercise of his profession. The Act gives the procedure as to the report to be made and the hearing of such disciplinary measures. Section 21 of the Law Practitioners Act provides that an attorney has “a right of audience before any Court” save and except (i) the Supreme Court, other than in Chambers, the Bankruptcy Division or the Master’s Court; or (ii) the Intermediate Court, except in formal matters and also in instances where in a civil suit before the Intermediate Court, the defendant does not appear or admits the claim, the attorney may proceed to conduct the case until judgment. The Law Practitioners Act of 1984 had a transitional provision which provided in its section 24 that any person who, “at the commencement of this Act, is or has been articled with an attorney or employed by a notary shall, for the purposes of being admitted as an attorney or a notary, continue to be governed by the existing law until 31 December 1992” and also that any person who is the holder of a “Maîtrise en Droit delivered by or under the auspices of a French University on or before 31 December 1992” was governed by the existing law and was exempted from the Intermediate Examination under the Attorneys (Admission) Rules 1960 and “his period of articleship under those rules shall be reduced to 3 years." On the 11th May 1985 a Law Practitioners (Oath of Office) Order was enacted providing that every person who wished to be admitted as a law practitioner had to take an oath. This was later to be replaced by the Law Practitioners (Oath of Office) Order 1992 and the oath to be taken is as follows: “I,[........] do swear/solemnly affirm/declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Mauritius according to law and that I will well and truly discharge the duties of a barrister/attorney/notary, according to law. (So help me God)”. In June 1990 the Law Practitioners (Qualifications) Regulations 1990 was introduced to provide that the degree which was “approved” by the Council was one in law of the University of Mauritius “the LL.B. degree with an approved syllabus”. In October of the same year 1990 the Council of Legal Education made regulations regarding the vocational examinations. Prospective attorneys had to satisfy examiners in not more than 6 written papers “on the substantive, adjectival, and procedural aspects of the laws applicable in Mauritius”. In 1994 Rules (which became effective on the 1st January 1995) were made under the Law Practitioners Act to the effect that degree which was “approved" by the Council was not only that of LLB degree with an approved syllabus from the University of Mauritius, but in the case of any other university: “a comparable degree of a level of at least a second class degree or its equivalent”.