BY Shrivan Dabee AND Stéphanie Sundanum-Sesmun
Changes in Mauritian court jurisdiction and costs
Following the implementation of the new rules governing the jurisdictional threshold of the courts in Mauritius, District Courts will now hear claims of up to MUR250 000 (as opposed to MUR50 000 previously) and the Intermediate Court will hear claims of up to MUR2-million, whenever such claims do not fall with the District Court threshold. Claims higher than MUR2-million will continue to be lodged before the Supreme Court.
Consequently, in respect of claims of up to MUR250 000, proceedings may have to be initiated before District Courts other than that of Port Louis. Parties involved in such cases will need to make arrangements for their representatives to attend District Courts.
In addition, legal costs (disbursements incurred in relation to court cases) have also increased significantly. In some instances, legal costs have increased by around 250%. As such, these increased costs will need to be taken into account when budgeting for litigation.
In parallel, the Chief Justice has also made rules for mediation before the Intermediate Court. These rules, which come into effect on 1 July 2019, provide for the following:
- the mediation process may be initiated if the court or one of the parties to the proceedings deems that the parties will be able to resolve the issues through mediation;
- the mediation magistrate may appoint an expert on technical points, whose cost will be borne equally by each party, and who will act independently of all the parties;
- the mediation magistrate may require a party to provide documents and a position paper setting out its stand on the various aspects of the case;
- the whole mediation process must be confidential. All documents produced and information provided will be deemed to be confidential to which legal privilege will attach, such that this cannot be used against the party having provided the information;
- where the parties have reached a settlement before the mediation magistrate, this must be in writing and signed by all the parties and the mediation magistrate;
- in certain circumstances, and with the agreement of all parties, the mediation magistrate may suggest certain terms of a settlement to the parties;
- where the parties have been unable to reach an agreement in mediation, the case will be referred for trial. The rules make provision for the possibility that the parties find an agreement on certain aspects of the case only, such that the trial may proceed on the outstanding issues;
- the mediation process must not exceed 30 days, unless it is established that an extension is required for the favourable progress of the mediation process.
Reviewed by Thierry Koenig, head of ENSafrica in Mauritius.