Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

Mauritius

Mauritius > Legal Developments > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Mauritius - Legal Updates

Mauritius has a sophisticated and transparent regulatory system that is ideal for a dynamic entrepreneurial environment and to promote diversified economic growth. Its openness to investors worldwide, its geographical location as well as its membership to international organizations such as the African Union (AU), the South African Development Countries (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Commonwealth of Nations, allow Mauritius to have a preferential and secure access to a wider market.

Economy

Mauritius’s economic freedom score is 76.4, is ranked 10th in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom published annually by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation and is ranked first out of 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Mauritius is considered as an upper middle income country, with a gross national income (GNI) per capita at USD 9,710 according to the World Bank, and aims at being in the high-income country category by 2025.

The government has put forward its economic objectives through an Economic Mission Statement (EMS) on 24 August 2015 which aims at creating 100,000 new jobs through major investment projects and setting the annual average growth at 5.5% as from 2017. In addition to the established economic sectors, the government aims at increasing the share of the manufacturing sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 18% to 25% in the next three years by revamping the manufacturing base of the country as well as developing the Port Louis harbour to become a major port in the region, as part of its ocean industry strategy. The EMS also emphasizes on the innovation, technology and communications sector where major investments have been proposed to transform Mauritius into a smart island, embedding the use of technology in the day-to-day life of every citizen. Another major feature of the EMS is the ‘Africa Strategy’ which is directed towards transforming Mauritius into a regional platform for trade, investment and services which will be achieved through enhanced economic exchanges, and an improved air and sea connectivity.

Legal Framework

Mauritius has a hybrid legal system combining both the civil and common law practices. It is governed by principles drawn from both the French Code Napoleon and the English Common Law. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in Mauritius and has unlimited jurisdiction to hear any criminal and civil proceedings. Mauritius has retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom as its final court of appeal.

Following the enactment, in 2011, of the International Arbitration Act 2008 which is based on the UNCITRAL model, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), one of the leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution, associated itself with the Mauritius International Arbitration Centre (“MIAC”) resulting in the creation of the LCIA-MIAC.

Recent Legal Developments

Insurance (Amendment) Act 2015

The objective of the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2005 is to allow the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to exercise more effective supervision over related companies of an insurer. The amendment to the Act caters for the appointment of a ‘Special Administrator’ upon request by the Minister where the FSC is satisfied that the liabilities of an insurer and any of its related companies exceed its assets by at least one billion rupees and such excess is a threat to the soundness of the financial system of Mauritius. The Special Administrator shall possess the equivalent qualifications of an insolvency practitioner under the Insolvency Act 2009. The Special Administrator shall have the same powers, duties and functions of an administrator under the Financial Services Act 2007 and Insolvency Act 2009 and that of a Conservator under the Insurance Act 2005. The amendment further provides that the approval of the Minister is required for the transfer of undertaking, in whole or in part, of an insurer and any of its related companies to a particular insurer and its related companies.

Revised Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) between Mauritius and South Africa

The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (Republic of South Africa) Regulations 2015 (the “RevisedDTA”) between Mauritius and South Africa will be effective as from 1 January 2016 following the memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) between the two countries on 22 May 2015. The key features of the Revised DTA are set out in the table below:

 

DTA 1996 (Currently Applicable)

New DTA (from 1 January 2016)

Dividends

5% / 15%

5% / 10%

Interests

Exempt

Exempt / 10%

Royalties

Exempt

5%

Doing Business in Mauritius

Mauritius is ranked 32nd globally as per the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report, topping all African countries as well as ranking first on the 2015 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

The Government has recently undertaken a series of measures to facilitate business in Mauritius which are in line with the EMS, namely the setting up a Fast Track Committee (FTC) in all ministries. The aim is to facilitate the processing and the issue of permits and licences to expedite the implementation of large investment projects such as real estate developments, development in the tertiary sector and medical services. The FTC will ensure that the implementation of large projects are done in a timely manner through rapid decision making. The Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI) has also recently inaugurated in October 2015 a new branch in New Delhi during the India–Africa Summit 2015, a major gathering represented by 54 African countries in a bid to bolster foreign investments from India.