Legal Market Overview
In 2020, Mauritius was confronted with two adversities: the Covid-19 pandemic and the findings of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) that led the European Commission to identify the island as a high-risk country.
As the coronavirus spread on the island, the employment and tourism industries were the first to suffer, with companies forced to find new business models or completely shut their doors. Insolvencies and administration proceedings increased and on April 22nd Air Mauritius, announcing a “complete erosion” of its revenue base, went into voluntary administration. Litigation, usually commercial or related to trusts, surged amongst shareholders and investment companies, which expressed different views on the management of assets during the health emergency.
Investors in Mauritius were also hampered by the EU money laundering blacklist and the consequent refusal of international banks to transact with Mauritian entities. A number of companies began to reconsider their operations on the island and several elected to exit the country. Regulations are already in place, but have not yet been implemented; the government is working to guarantee a resolution, which is expected to be announced by mid-2021.
Mauritius has a hybrid legal system with components of civil and common law. Similarly to the UK, the market includes solicitors’ firms and sets of chambers, but in recent years, many of the latter have started to register as firms. This legal form allows for hiring, promotions and visibility.