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Seychelles’ Court of Appeal sends historic pollution case back to Supreme Court


Four justices from the Court of Appeal convened on Monday morning for the last session of the year. (Seychelles News Agency) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles’ Court of Appeal has sent a pollution case back to Justice Melchior Vidot to decide on the damages that the petitioners will get from the Ministry of Environment in its last session for the year on Monday.

The case relates to Woodlands Holdings, a private company in Seychelles, and its director as petitioners, who won an environmental pollution case against the government in the Constitutional Court in 2018.

It was the first time in the history of the Seychelles’ judicial system for such an outcome.

When giving the judgement, Justice K Gunesh Balaghee said that the state was under obligation “to take steps to clean up pollution in public places such as rivers and beaches”.

However, he added that this did not include circumstances where neighbours willfully polluted areas near them.

The company, which owns about 10 parcels of land situated at Fairview Estate, La Misere on Mahe, lodged a civil suit in the Supreme Court raising concerns about the effusions of waste material polluting a river close to the property owned by the Ministry of Environment in September 2018.

Meanwhile, the President of the Seychelles Court of Appeal, Anthony Fernando, said that the conclusion of 167 civil, criminal and constitutional appeals and miscellaneous for the year 2023  is a record performance.

Fernando made the statement in his closing address for appeal sessions for the year 2023 on Monday.

The appellate court concluded 99 civil, constitutional and criminal appeals filed up to 31 December 2022 and even some of the appeals filed in 2023.

“We will also conclude by disposing of 68 civil and criminal, miscellaneous applications. In total we would thus have concluded disposing of a total of 167 civil, criminal and constitutional appeals and miscellaneous applications during the year 2023,” he said. 

With most of the work completed, it is expected that for the year 2024 there will be only 27 appeals both civil and criminal, to be dealt with.

Excluding the 11 criminal appeals listed for the April 2024 for the Court of Appeal session, only two criminal appeals remain to be heard in August 2024.

When the four justices from the Court of Appeal convened on Monday morning, they delivered judgments on the last few cases of the 58 they had heard so far.

“I must state that we succeeded in achieving this record target due to the efforts of my colleagues who ungrudgingly worked through many appeal briefs that they had to deal with, despite many shortcomings, namely delays in filing skeleton heads of arguments, the very poor quality of skeleton heads and submissions and sheer lack of interest on the part of some lawyers,” said Fernando.

He commended the lawyers who assisted the Court and thanked them for their cooperation.  

Fernando reminded Justices that they need to continue to deliver judgments on time unless there is very good reason for postponing the delivery of judgments.

“We, Justices, lawyers and those involved in the administration of justice should not be insensitive to the feelings of those litigants awaiting anxiously to see the outcome of their cases. We should always, put ourselves in their position. Concern for others and due diligence is an attribute we all must have, and if not cultivate. It is only then we can maintain the respect and trust people have placed on us,” he added. 





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