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Mauritius is on the verge of overhauling its legal sector in a bid to entice international firms to set up shop in the jurisdiction and to raise its financial services profile.
Denton Wilde Sapte, which has targeted the Mauritian offshore industry ;since ;2005 through its association with local firm BLC Chambers, could be one of the first international firms to take advantage of the imminent changes.
Howard Barrie, head of Dentons' Africa practice, told ;The ;Lawyer: ;"We welcome the liberalisation of ;regulations. ;We're considering whether the nature of our association is such that it will need to be registered as a joint law venture or not."
Malcolm Moller, managing partner at Appleby's Mauritian office in the capital Port Louis, said the law would "change the landscape of how law firms are registered".
Under the new rules international firms will also be able to set up standalone offices, where they have at least two lawyers in situ. However, they will still have to maintain associations with Mauritian lawyers. This was an olive branch extended to the local legal community, which felt threatened by a possible flood of foreign lawyers, according ;to ;Shyamal Jeewolall, a Mauritian-born associate in Norton Rose's Paris office.
BLC tax lawyer Jason Harel said he was not envious of international firms and played down the possibility of a rush into the market.
"International law firms are welcome to come to Mauritius. It would raise the profile of the jurisdiction. But for the time being I can't see any firms doing it. Mauritius doesn't have a high volume of English law work," he said.