GOP for foreign lawyers to practice in Seychelles clarified
Following conflicting remarks circulating on social media regarding the process and the granting of a gainful occupation permit (GOP) to a foreign lawyer, in reference to the case of Miranda Ching who had come in from London to defend two suspects in the case of the missing US $50million, the principal secretary for immigration and civil status Alain Volcère yesterday clarified the circumstances surrounding the particular case.
“For a foreign lawyer to be authorised to practice law in Seychelles including right of audience, he or she needs to have a license and a gainful occupation permit (GOP). But to begin with, an application has to be submitted before the Supreme Court either by a law firm or an individual lawyer – the associate of the foreign lawyer. Among the documents the law firm or lawyer has to submit to the Supreme Court includes an affidavit and this is in line with the Legal Practitioner’s Act,” Mr Volcère explained.
He went on to note that once the Court is satisfied with the application, it will serve a court order that stipulates the compulsory conditions that should be adhered to by the foreign lawyer and these include having a GOP which he or she should submit to the Supreme Court once received in order to be granted a license to practice.
Mr Volcère specified that as per the foreign lawyer’s license and GOP, he or she is not permitted to provide any legal services to other people outside the specific case.
While it is the normal procedure for a GOP process to start while a person is still outside Seychelles, Mr Volcère said in relation to lawyer Miranda Ching’s case, it was registered on January 13, a day before she entered the country. Her application was processed on January 20 and on the same day she took her oath before leaving the country the following day.
Mr Volcère remarked that a GOP application was also submitted on that day but it was incomplete.
“She had to leave the country because she did not have a GOP,” Mr Volcère stressed, noting that until now no GOP application has been received for processing.
He further noted that all the different steps in the process have been followed and there only remains the GOP certificate to be obtained.
He said that under normal circumstances a GOP is processed and obtained in a week.
He further clarified that all GOPs should be paid for regardless if the foreign employee is from a Commonwealth jurisdiction or not.
For her part the executive director in the employment department, Veronique Bresson, noted that the GOP process for foreign legal practitioners is different and more specific compared to other foreign employees as it includes the Court submission and subsequent Court order.
“The person in question felt that she needed to be present in the country to follow the Court process before exiting the country because she knows that she cannot start practicing without the GOP and that this cannot be processed if the person is in the country,” Ms Bresson clarified, noting that for the time being the employment department is yet to receive the GOP application.