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48 Tul. L. Rev. 815 (1973-1974)
Projected Reform of the Civil Law of the Seychelles: An Experiment in Franco/British Codification

handle is hein.journals/tulr48 and id is 855 raw text is: THE PROJECTED REFORM OF THE CIVIL LAW OF THE
The Two Traditions
It is probably not widely known, even among comparative law-
yers, that the Seychelles Islands,1 which is a British Colony in the
Indian Ocean, has a dual tradition: a civil law one, ever since the
French Civil Code was promulgated by the original settlers, who
were French,2 and a common law         one that dates back to 1814.
The former is the consequence of the introduction by the French
settlers of the Napoleonic Code,3 which was not superseded by the
common law when Britain obtained control over the islands. In-
deed, it was retained by the British authorities and, to this day,
the French Civil Code, the Commercial Code, and the French Code
of Civil Procedure, in the original French language, constitute the
backbone of the legal system of the Islands. It would be true to say
that the French law applicable to the Islands is much more faithful
to the original version of the French Codes than present French
* Professor of Comparative Law, University of London, King's College;
Dean of the Faculty of Laws. B.A. 1951, M.A. 1955, University of Oxford;
LL.D. 1972, University of London. The author served in 1973 as adviser to the
Seychelles Government on the recodification and reform of the Code of Na-
I The Seychelles archipelago consists of over eighty islands in the Western
Indian Ocean. The largest island, Mah6, lies 940 miles due east of Mombasa
and 1,750 miles south-west of Bombay in the tropical belt. It was sighted by
Vasco da Gama in 1502 and was first visited by Alexander Sharpleigh, an
English seaman, in 1609. But it was the French who first annexed Mah6 and the
other islands in 1756. The first inhabitants were French settlers, accompanied
by their African slaves and some soldiers. It was in 1814 that the islands were
finally ceded to Britain. Until 1903, they were regarded as a dependency of
Mauritius but since that date they have been a separate Crown Colony. At
present, the government is subject to a constitution introduced in 1970, which
provides for a Legislative Assembly of 15 elected members and 3 ex offlcio
members. It now seems certain that the Seychelles will become independent in
1975. The population in 1970, which is mixed, consisted of 53,437 African,
Indian, Chinese, and white inhabitants. They are mostly Roman Catholic and
speak Creole, a kind of French patois. The capital is Victoria (on Mah6 island)
and its population is approximately 12,000 inhabitants.
2 Civil Code (Repromulgation) art. 53, Ar'it6 21 April 1808 Decaen No.
168 (Seychelles).
3 A passing reference to the survival of the Code Napoleon in the Seychelles
can be found in 1 P. Arminjon, B. Nolde & M. Wolff, Trait6 de droit compar6
97 (1950). Cf. R. David, Les grands syst~mes de droit contemporains § 57 (5th
ed. 1973); B. Schwartz, The Code Napoleon and the Common Law World
(1956) [hereinafter cited as Schwartz], which contains a great deal of histori-
cal matter and deals with the points of contact between the common law and
the Code Napoleon but does not refer to the Seychelles.

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