The Mauritian Legal System is considered as a mixed or more commonly a hybrid legal system. The two previous colonial powers, that is the French and the British have both left their signature on the Mauritian Legal System.
The Civil law of Mauritius is derived from the French “Code Napoleon” which has given birth to the Code Civil Mauricien which provides for the rights of individuals, matrimonial regimes, contract law, property law amongst others. On the other hand, the Mauritian Criminal law is derived from the French “Code Penal”, the British Criminal Procedure and the British law of evidence.
The co-existence of both French and British derived law has harmoniously fused into a distinct system of its own which is now recognised as “the Mauritian Law/ le droit mauricien”
The judiciary plays a prominent role in the emergence of the Mauritian Law in as much as the judges are very much alive to its mixed legal heritage and the need to preserve it. But on the other hand, while reference is made to French case law and English case law for guidance as to interpretation, the judges of the Supreme Court of Mauritius will not hesitate to adopt solutions and jurisprudence more compatible with the Mauritian context.
With the amalgamation that had occurred over the time, the Mauritian Law as it emerged cannot be said to be entirely French or English. One good example is the law on divorce whose provisions are to be found in the Code Civil Mauricien (inspired from French Civil Code) and in the Judicial Separation Act of English origin which comes to supplement the provisions of the Code Civil Mauricien.
With the emergence of Mauritian Law as a unique hybrid, a panel of judges and scholars concluded that the Mauritian Law and its legal history were worth studying in their own right. Subsequently
there was the Faculty of Law of the University of Mauritius and the Council of Legal Education which was set up for both academic and vocational training.
Two documents worth reading would be :
1. L’Evolution du Droit Civil à L’Ile Maurice (1721 – 1968) by D'Unienville Raymond Q.C.
2. Legal Method and Mauritius Legal System ( Lecture at University of Mauritius) by Pierre Rosario Domingue.
* This article serves as a very brief introduction of the Mauritian Legal system and intentionally the article has not included the historical period of both the French and British colonial powers as it would have been too cumbersome for the reader.*