The Ministry of Legal Affairs has taken steps to move closer to the realization of Law Reform Commission (LRC).
The LRC is mandated to essentially reform and upgrade all possible legislation in Guyana, in order to ensure they are in line with international best practices. However since the passage of the Bill two years ago, to facilitate the establishment of the Commission, the work of the Legal Affairs Department towards setting up the committee to carry out the necessary functions has been dawdling.
Section three of the Law Reform Commission Act establishes that the LRC shall consist of not less than three or more than seven members that shall be appointed by the President, acting after consultation with the Minister.
With this in mind, the Legal Affairs Ministry has invited suitably qualified candidates to apply for the position of law reform commissioners.
According to advertisements publicised recently, “interested persons should first and foremost be competent to carry out the required duties.”
“Suitably qualified candidates should hold or have held a judicial office; experience as an attorney for 10 years or have experience as a lecturer of the law in a University for at least 10 years.”
Applicants can uplift the Terms of Reference in relation to the LRC membership from the Ministry of Legal Affairs’ Carmichael Street Main Office. The deadline for the submission of applications is March 3.
Section 7 of the LRC Act outlines that the mandate of the Commission, to be carried out by its members, includes keeping under review the laws of Guyana, with a view to its systematic development and reform, including in particular, the modification of any branch of the law, the reduction of the number of the separate enactments and generally the simplification and modernization of the law.
The Bill to facilitate the establishment of the Commission was passed in the National Assembly in 2015. However, it was not supported by the parliamentary opposition. The opposition’s disapproval was on the ground that the Law Reform Commission Bill directs the President, in consultation with the Attorney-General, to appoint members of the commission.
The PPP/C had recommended that instead of going down this route, the members of the commission should be chosen by the Association of Legal Professionals, University of Guyana, Private Sector Commission, the religious community, the labour unions, Human Rights groups and the political opposition.
Last year Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams faced a series of questions over the budgetary allocations towards establishing the commission.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall blasted Government over the non establishment. He noted that no one knew how the money which was appropriated for the commission was spent.
“In the National Assembly, we budgeted over two years ago for the establishment of a Law Reform Commission,” Nandlall said.
“You will remember that the Attorney General came (and) had that as part of his budget. We appropriated money for that. At least $20M had been included in the 2017 budget estimates for the purchase of office furniture, laptops and desktop computers, and to rent a building. At the time, the building had not even been identified to the public,” Nandlall reminded.
In his response, Williams said the Ministry of Legal Affairs in its 2017 budgetary allocation had made several provisions to facilitate the functioning of the Commission. Williams said that the moneys were used to acquire office equipment for the Commission in addition to leasing a building to house the operations of the LRC. He explained that the wisdom behind acquiring the items then, was that Government should not wait until the Commission is set up before efforts are made to accommodate the commissioners and the necessary staff.
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