Presumption of Deaths Act
- Commenced on 6 July 1907
- [This is the version of this document as it was at 1 June 2020 to 30 June 2021.]
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Presumption of Deaths Act.
2. Who may petition for enquiry into deathThe Attorney General, the relatives of a person who has disappeared, or anyone interested in the property of the person who has disappeared,* may, whenever he or any of them have reason to believe that such person is dead, but such death cannot be proved or registered because the dead body has not been found or else because it is not possible to give formal proof of such death, lodge a petition at the Registry of the Supreme Court requesting a Judge to order an enquiry in order to ascertain whether such person is dead.
3. Form of enquiryIf the person has disappeared while residing in Seychelles a Judge shall, on receiving such petition, order a magistrate (whose selection shall be approved by the Minister), to hold a public enquiry into the circumstances under which the person alleged to be dead disappeared, and the Judge shall direct such magistrate to summon as a witness any person whose evidence he may think necessary. The evidence of the witness shall be taken on oath and taken down in writing. When each witness has given his evidence it shall be read over to him and he shall be asked if the same is correct. After the deposition has been corrected (if this shall be necessary) or after the witness has admitted that the same is correct, the witness shall sign or put his mark to the same. The magistrate shall countersign the deposition. When the enquiry has been completed, the magistrate shall state in writing the conclusion he has come to upon such evidence and forward the depositions so signed with such conclusion to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
4. Application to Supreme Court after enquiryThe person or persons who have lodged the petition, or other person interested in the deceased's property, may thereupon petition a Judge to declare the person the subject of the enquiry dead. If the applicant is not the Attorney General, then the Attorney General shall be served with a copy of the petition and made a party to such application and be furnished with a copy of the evidence proposed to be put before the Judge on the application.
5. Procedure on applicationA Judge may, after hearing the application in open court, declare the person who has disappeared to be dead, or if he is not satisfied that such person is dead, declare him to be absent. The Judge may, if he thinks it desirable at any time, from time to time adjourn the application for advertisements to be issued and further enquiry to be made. The Judge shall have power to rehear all or any of the witnesses heard by the magistrate and to receive any further evidence he may think desirable.
6. Form of declaration of deathIf the Judge declares a person dead and is satisfied as to the time and date of such death, he shall state in his judgment when the person died; otherwise he shall simply declare such person's death.
7. Registration of declarationA judgment declaring a death shall be sufficient authority to the officer of civil status to register the death. If the judgment states any time or date of the death, the record shall also state the exact date and time that such death has been declared to have taken place. The Registrar of the Supreme Court shall, on application of the applicant, furnish a copy of the judgment to the civil status officer for registration purposes.
8. Power to open will of person declared absentWhen a person has been declared absent, the Attorney General, the relatives, or the persons pecuniarily interested in such person's estate may apply to have his will (if any) opened, and a Judge may thereupon order the same to be opened.
9. Power of Judge to allow person to take or keep possession of absentee's propertyIf the Judge has declared a person absent, he may, if he is of opinion that it is in the general interest of the parties interested in the succession that any particular person or persons should be allowed to take possession or to remain in possession of the absentee's property, allow such person or persons to have the possession thereof on giving absentee's security and complying with the provisions contained in section 10 as to having a valuation and inventory made and any order of the court given thereunder, as to furnishing security.In this section "possession" shall include physical control but so however that any person who takes or remains in possession under this section shall not, by reason only of such possession, acquire any legal right of ownership by prescription.
10. Inventory of absentee's property
11. Curator of Vacant Estates' duty
12. Duties and remuneration of person in possession of absentee's property
13. When enquiry to be held by JudgeIf the person has disappeared after a ship (whose port of registry is elsewhere than in Seychelles) has been lost, or from such ship, or after leaving Seychelles, the Judge shall, on receiving a petition from any of the persons mentioned in setion 2, hold the enquiry himself. The Attorney General shall be made a party thereto and shall be furnished (if not himself the petitioning party) with a copy of the evidence which the parties propose placing before the Judge and be entitled to adduce any other evidence he may think material.
14. Form of enquiry before JudgeThe evidence shall be taken in the manner provided for under section 3. After hearing the evidence the Judge shall, if any of the parties mentioned in section 2 apply to him to have the person the subject of the enquiry declared dead, proceed in the manner provided for by sections 5 and 6, and give judgment accordingly.
15. Effect of seven years' disappearanceIf a person has not been heard of for seven years and a Judge after an enquiry has been held be of opinion that the circumstances point to his death, he may declare the said person dead.
16. Person reappearing - rights ofIf it shall be proved to the court that the person declared dead has reappeared or is alive the effects of such judgment will cease, except that he or those claiming under him shall not be entitled to any income which may have accrued from any property during his absence and which has been enjoyed by the person or persons who would have been entitled thereto in the event of his having actually died, or has been enjoyed by a person in possession under section 12(1). He or they shall be entitled to recover such property as may be in the hands of such person or persons but only in such state as he or they may find it upon his reappearance or being proved to be alive. If the property has been sold, then he or they shall only be entitled to recover from such person or persons the price of the property sold, or any property which represents the price of such property sold.
17. Limitation of time within which heirs can bring an action for possessionAfter the lapse of ten years from the time at which a person has been declared dead no action shall be brought by anyone claiming through the person declared dead to recover possession of such person's property from a person put, or allowed to remain, in possession of it by the court, or to recover possession from a person claiming under a person so put or allowed to remain in possession.
18. Non-application of ActThe procedure set out in this Act shall not apply in cases of a petition for presumption of death and dissolution of marriage made by a wife or husband under any law relating to matrimonial causes.
History of this document
01 July 2021 amendment not yet applied
01 June 2020 this version
06 July 1907