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Summary on Mauritius


The Republic of Mauritius, with a surface of 720 square miles (1 865 km2) is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. It lies about 800 km on the eastern coast of Africa and some 4 000 km from the southwest coast of India. It is of volcanic origin and has an exclusive economic zone. The island-state stands on what was once a land bridge between Asia and Africa called the Mascarene Archipelago.The Arabs first visited the island in the 12th century followed by the Dutch in late 16th when they found the famous bird called DODO. The French in ‘’l’Acte de capitulation’’ ceded Mauritius to the British in 1810.The latter ruled the country until it became independent on 12th March 1968. Mauritius thereafter became the Republic of Mauritius in 1992.In the 19th Century there were three separate commercial banks, now all defunct, which operated under the name of Bank of Mauritius. The first Bank of Mauritius started operations in 1813 or so, but survived only until 1825.The second Bank of Mauritius was a British overseas bank with two boards of directors, one in London and the other in Port Louis. It began operations in 1832 and favored the interests of the planter class. In 1838, several British merchants and traders, including James Blyth and William Hollier Griffiths, established the Banque Commerciale de l’îsle Maurice to compete with the only other bank, the Bank of Mauritius, which favored the planters on the island. The financial crisis of 1847 in London resulted in the collapse of the sugar market, and severe losses to both of Mauritius's banks. Bank of Mauritius ceased business in 1848,whereas the Mauritius Commercial Bank, in turn has survived to the present. The Banking Ordinance (Ord 1 of 1958) came into force on 17th April 1958 to regulate the business of banking and the licensing authority was the then Financial Secretary and at that time there were only three banks namely Barclays D.C.O, MCB Limited and Mercantile Bank limited. In 1966 the Bank of Mauritius Ordinance (Ord 43 of 1966) came into force and empowered the Bank of Mauritius to act as banker of the Government. In 1971 a new Banking Act was voted sweeping away the Banking Ordinance of 1958 whereby the Bank of Mauritius became the Licensing Authority. To day, we have more than 20 banks operating in Mauritius and the status of the people with whom they are doing business, the nature of the transaction, the security offered have evolved towards a more stringent and regulated environment. On the other hand our legislations are keeping the pace with the coming into operation of new banks along with international complexities. Several legislations have been repealed to pave the way for new provisions under of our Civil Code namely Act no 8 of 1983 which had repealed the Lien on Motor vehicles Act (originally Ordinance no 39 of 1939) to ease the way for the concept of ‘’Nantissement’’ with its concept of ‘’gage sans déplacement’’ commonly resorted to for the creation of a guarantee on a motor vehicle, professional ,industrial or agricultural equipments and the concept of ‘’gage avec déplacement’’ on share certificates for example. Act no 12 of 1984, in turn, has repealed the Loans, Charges and privileges ( Authorised Bodies)Act 1970 to pave the way for a new concept called ‘’ fixed and floating charges’’. The Double Tax Treaties with many countries are attracting more foreigners, where our rates of income tax are seductive, with the added result of expanding our banking business. The licences granted to our Banks are two-fold, on the one hand, following authorisation from the Bank of Mauritius they do banking business strict senso and, on the other, following authorisation from the Financial Services Commission they deal in financial services as well, contrary to what is obtained in England with the Financial Services Authority where in June 1998 responsibility for banking supervision was transferred to the FSA from the Bank of England.

PART I - TYPES OF SECURITY
Question 1. What are the most common types of security in banking transactions in your jurisdiction (e.g. standard security package)? Please provide a brief characteristic of each type of security.

Answer 1.The most common types of security in Mauritius are the Personal Guarantee (Garantie Personnelle ) and the Real Guarantee ( Garantie Réelle).
Personal Guarantee means each time a physical or a corporate person would intervene as guarantor to pay a debt where the principal debtor, which is a corporate or a physical person would default. In French this type of guarantee is commonly known as ''Cautionnement'. It is provided for under Titre Quatorzieme of our Civil Code which is of French origin.
Real Guarantee, on the other hand, takes care of any immovable or movable property which is designed to guarantee the repayment of any debt in default of payment of the principal debtor. The expression ''nantissement'' or ''pledge'' which itself is divided into 2 components, is used for movable properties whereas fixed or floating charges are most commonly used for immovable properties. Article 2202-02 of our civil code makes provisions for the different authorised bodies which are entitled to create a fixed or a floating charge on a property, they are namely: the Government of Mauritius, all banks duly licensed under the Banking Act, all Insurance companies, the Development Bank of Mauritius, any other foreign financial institutions duly authorised by the Minister of Finance inter alia.
As regards, the movable properties, we have the terminology ''gage sans déplacement'' or ''gage sans dépossession'' i.e pledge without deprivation of the property and the '' gage avec déplacement'' or ''gage avec dépossession''i.e pledge with deprivation of the property. The word ''nantissement'' also applies for immovable property where it is called ''antichrèse'' and in this case the custody of the property given in guarantee is held by the creditor. On the other hand the ''gage avec déplacement'' is commonly resorted to for share certificates which are given in pledge. We do also have mortgages and liens on ships/vessels and aircrafts.

Question 2. In relation to the following types of assets, please provide the types of security that can
be created or granted in your jurisdiction and give details of any registrations required:

Answer 2.
(a) Real Estate
The fixed and floating charges are the most common instruments which are used for the creation of a guarantee on real estate. The main differences between the types of guarantees are as follows:
Upon the creation of a fixed charge, an inventory along with an evaluation is drawn so as to know with certainty which property is being burdened and to which extent. The charge is embodied in a deed under private signature. The debtor cannot without the express authorisation of the creditor dispose of any of the property (article 2202-29 of the civil code). Whereas under the floating charge, the deed will make mention of any present and/or future property to be burdened .The person creating such charge may under article 2202-38, unless fraud is proved, dispose of any the burdened property as if the floating charge had never existed. This mechanism was designed for the textile sector so as to enable the manufacturer to sell the finished goods without having at each time to require prior authorisation from the creditor.
The creation of the charges is clearly set out under our laws. Both charges are created by way of deeds under private signatures and under articles 1326 of the civil code the person creating the charges is enjoined to write the words and the figures of the amount for which the charge is being created in his own handwritings. The document is inscribed with the Conservator of Mortgages with the payment of the prescribed dues as mentioned below.
(b) Charging assets (inventory, stocks etc.);
(c) Movables;
(d) Shares;
The three above items as well as under (i) below, are considered as movable property, and there would be no impediment that they be given in guarantee by way of fixed or floating charges. But the most common vehicle for items of similar nature is the ‘’Nantissement ‘’as provided for under our civil code
Indeed article 2100 makes provisions for the creation of a ‘gage sans déplacement’’ on motor vehicles and a registration is made with the National Transport Authority to that effect after the completion of the deed which can be either an authentic one or under private signature. The Insurance policies and the shares certificate are dealt with under article 2077 of the code. The creditor does not have the right to appropriate to him the said security save after being authorized by the Judge in Chambers.
Aircrafts, ships and vessels are considered as movables. It is not common, but any mortgage on an aircraft is registered with the Conservator of Mortgages .Any mortgage and maritime lien on a ship or vessel is governed by the Merchant Shipping Act(Act 26 of 2007) , and same is registered with the Registrar of Ships.
(e) Rights under contracts (receivables);
This is quite rare.
(f) Bank Accounts;
Articles 2129-1 up to 2129 is a reproduction of the defunct Loans,Charges and Privileges(Authorised Bodies)Act where the bank is empowered to take shares or bonds and debentures with blank transfer in guarantee to secure the repayment of any advances made to his clients. Articles 2150-1 to 2150—6 are again a reproduction of the defunct Loans,Charges and Privileges(Authorised Bodies)Act where the bank is empowered to debit and customer’s credit balance and to credit the same customer’s debit balance as of right without any judicial or extrajudicial formality.
(g) Financial instruments (e.g. securities);
This is quite rare.
(h) Intellectual Property;
This is quite rare.
(i)Plant and machinery;
This topic has been treated in b),c) and d) above.

(j) Other assets.
I have in mind Ships and air crafts which have been dealt with above and do not see any other special items.

Please find below the schedule for the payment of the registration dues to the Government of Mauritius at the Registrar General’s office.
Any deed containing the creation of a mortgage or privilege or instrument containing creation of fixed or floating charge or a pledge ( meaning gage sans déplacement or avec déplacement)

Amount – [Amended 18/08] Rupees

(a) not exceeding 300,000 rupees
1,000
(b) exceeding 300,000 rupees but not exceeding 500,000 rupees
3,000
(c) exceeding 500,000 rupees but not exceeding 1,000,000 rupees
10,000
(d) exceeding 1,000,000 rupees but not exceeding 5,000,000 rupees
30,000
(e) exceeding 5,000,000 rupees 50,000

There are some stamps duties which are added to the above at the time of the registration.

Question 3. Can a trustee or security agent be used in your jurisdiction, or must security be
granted in favour of all lenders? Is the parallel debt clause concept recognized in your
jurisdiction?

Answers 3.We do have our legislations governing trusts and there is nothing in our laws which would prohibit retaining the services of a security agent.
Parallel debt clause is not forbidden in Mauritius and it might be a common practice between banks and so far the relationship between a bank and its customer is concerned it would be quite remote.
The appointment of a trustee or a security agent will be governed by the provisions of contract law and so far it does not offend the public order it will be fine.

Question 4. Please explain the latest amendments to the law governing secured transactions in
your jurisdiction. Are there any amendments which will be introduced in the near
future (within 1-2 years) which might have an impact on the legal framework of secured
transactions? Please also explain recent practical developments regarding secured
transactions in your jurisdiction.

Answer 4.Indeed the Insolvency Act (Act no 3 of 2009) has come into force on the 8th May 2009 for the purpose of amending and consolidating the law relating to insolvency of individuals and companies and the distribution of assets on insolvency and related matters. It has done away with the Bankruptcy Act, the former Insolvency Act and certain provisions of the Companies Act, Insurance Act, and Merchant Shipping Act and of the Sale of Immovable Property Act.
The distribution of the proceeds of the bankruptcy or the Winding up will be made according to the ranks of the creditors who can accept a composition as well. Any forthcoming new legislation in that area in the near future is not predictable at this stage. The new Insolvency act has but reinforced the distribution list while taking care of any social impact that any seizure would result and the priority of payments to preferential creditors are as follows: Costs of liquidator or Official Receiver, amount due to the Government and its agencies, wages or salaries due to employees, costs of compromise with creditors, rents: landlord’s special privilege, first ranking, fixed and floating charges and mortgages inscribed less than 3 years, claims of victims of an accident, other privileges, securities and creditors, amounts due to Government and its agencies in connection with amount due and unpaid for over three months, all other unsecured creditors…

PART II – ENFORCEMENT OF SECURITY
1. Please explain briefly general rules of enforcement of security indicated in answer to
the Question 1 in Part I above (excluding rules in a bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding
– see Question 3 below). In your answer please explain whether specific security may be
enforced only through judicial proceedings or whether extra-judicial methods are also
available. Furthermore, please provide estimate of costs (if they create significant
obstacle in enforcement, including applicable taxes and any other duties/ costs) and
timing for enforcing such security. Please also explain degree of difficulty (e.g.
burdensome formalities, whether enforcement requires actions of a state body) in
enforcing security. Also please explain whether taking security by an entity from other
jurisdiction influences possibility of establishing security and its enforcement.

Answer 1.
Some enforcement should be done by way of judicial proceedings whereas others need not.
Extra judicial enforcement
Where the bank is empowered to take shares or bonds and debentures with blank transfer in guarantee to secure the repayment of any advances made to his clients, the bank is fully entitled to dispose of the shares or the other securities without any judicial formality.
Where the bank is empowered to debit and customer’s credit balance and to credit the same customer’s debit balance, as well there is no any judicial formality.
Where the services of an auctioneer is required as in Answer 2 above , there will be no need for any judicial intervention.

Judicial enforcement
The realization of any fixed or floating charge is made under the Sale of Immovable Property Act where the debtor may lodge a petition to have the proceedings stayed on ground of irregularity for example or any other ground where the matter shall have to be argued before the Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court.
There is no intervention of the State in the enforcement of the security save the locus standi to be proved by the creditor. The creation of a security by a foreign body will have no bearing on the enforcement proceedings and the laws are the same for all creditors and our Exchange Control Act has been suspended and that the foreign creditor will easily take his money back to his country without hurdles. The services of local lawyers will have to be retained and usually there is an upfront fee as retainer and a successful fee in terms of a percentage is paid at the end.
2. Please explain briefly specific features (if any) of enforcement of security established
over following types of assets:
(a) Real Estate; no judicial intervention is needed to put the property for sale. The sale is however conducted before the Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court under the provisions of the Sale of Immovable Property Act. However the floating charge needs to be crystallized into a fixed charge before it is put up for sale before the Master’s Bar. The purpose is to precisely ascertain the properties at one point in time. Very often the creditors, among themselves agree to cede priority or to rank on a pari passu basis.
(b) Charging assets (inventory, stocks etc.);
(c) Fixed charge over movables;
(d) Shares;
For b,c and d above the movables will be disposed of by an auctioneer
(e) Rights under contracts (receivables); very rare
(f) Bank Accounts;
This is called a ‘’Gage Spécial’’ and the bank is allowed to dispose of the securities without the services of an auctioneer and to get repaid. The bank is empowered to debit and customer’s credit balance and to credit the same customer’s debit balance as of right without any judicial or extrajudicial formality.
(g) Financial instruments (e.g. securities); rare
(h) Intellectual Property; rare
(i) Plant and machinery;
Fixed or floating charge or gage sans déplacement . The same procedure as above is applied.
(j) Other assets.
As far as the enforcement of any guarantee on an aircraft is concerned it is made through an auctioneer. The enforcement of a guarantee on a ship/vessel is made before the Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

It is interesting to note that in the Judgment Mauritius Commercial Bank Limited v/s Mauritius Cooperative Central Bank ltd 1993 Supreme Court Judgment (SCJ) 340 ti was decided on appeal confirming the decision of the Master and Registrar that a ‘’gage sans déplacement’’ had priority over a floating charge.

Question 3. How does a commencement of bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding influence the
rights of the security holder to enforce its rights? In bankruptcy or insolvency
proceedings, what are the suspect periods, is claw-back possible, and what other types of
rights (tax debts, employees, etc.) have preference over security granted? Please explain
briefly specific features (if any) of enforcement of security established over following
types of assets in a bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding:
(a) Real Estate;
(b) Charging assets (inventory, stocks etc.);
(c) Fixed charge over movables; The realization of such security is made by an auctioneer.

(d) Shares;
(e) Rights under contracts (receivables);
(f) Bank Accounts;
(g) Financial instruments (e.g. securities);
(h) Intellectual Property;
(i) Plant and machinery;
(j) Other assets.
Answer 3.
Claw backs might be interpreted as fraud and there is no suspect period as such in our laws.
As regards any guarantee in the form of a fixed or a floating charge is concerned please refer to answer 2 (a) above. The answer to question 4 under Part 1 will apply.
Any guarantee in the form of ‘’ gage sans déplacement’’ or ‘’ gage avec déplacement’’ the enforcement is made through the auctioneer. The answer to question 4 under Part 1 will not apply to movable properties save if any interested creditor with a valid judgment from a competent court to exercise an attachment in the hands of the auctioneer.

4. Are there any specific features or problems of enforcement proceedings if the security
is granted to a trustee or security agent or the parallel debt structure is used?
All procedures as provided for under our laws must be strictly adhered to.

5. Please explain the latest amendments to the law governing secured transaction in your
jurisdiction in relation to a bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding. Are there any
amendments which will be introduced in the near future (within 1-2 years) which might
have impact on the legal framework of the enforcement of secured transactions in the
light of insolvency law? Please also explain recent practical developments regarding
secured transactions in your jurisdiction in relation to insolvency law.

It is worth noting that under our new Borrower’s Protection Act the other spouse should intervene in any deed of similar nature when the common domicile is given in guarantee.
Please refer to answer 4 under Part 1.
No new legislation

Potayya, S. 2011, Summary on Mauritius.