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Revised Laws published; Attorney General says lawyers pirating Law Reports

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Anil Nandlall, presenting a copy of the revised Laws of Guyana, to Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Carl Singh

A large component of the Modernisation of the Justice Administration Project has been the revision of the Laws of Guyana; and copies were presented to the Inter American Development Bank’s (IDB) Representative, Sophie Makonnen, and Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Carl Singh.

Upon receipt of her copy, from Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, Ms Makonnen said she was pleased to see the results of this component of the project. The IDB, Country Representative added that it is her hope that the bank and the Government can continue to work together.

During the ceremony which was held at the Sleep Inn Hotel, copies of the compilation were on display to the gathering which consisted of several top ranking officials from the legal fraternity.

Giving an overview of this component of the project, Project Coordinator, Justice Claudette Singh said the laws have been updated as of December 2010 despite the many challenges faced in making this project a reality and success.

“The protracted delay in the updating exercise was as a result of the gross underestimation of the subsidiary legislation involved with each set of the laws which now consists of 18 volumes of substantive and subsidiary legislation,” she said.

This, Singh said is a requirement under the Law Revision Act which states that  every page of each volume should contain a reference to the Law Revision Order which authorises its inclusion in the laws.

Speaking of some of the challenges the team faced in conducting the review, Singh noted that there were four attempts to have the laws revised, but each were unsuccessful.

“Prior to this edition updated, there were attempts to have the law revised but all failed, but  in 2007 a loan contract was signed with the IDB for this  Modernisation of Justice Project and initially it would have been updated as of 2006, but that eventually changed”.

Meanwhile Minister Nandlall expressed how pleased he was about this achievement for the judicial sector.

“We are part of a historic exercise as  Justice Singh pointed out it has been a 35 – year hiatus in our law revision exercise and I would like to assure you that we will not wait another 34 years for this to happen”.

To this end, the Minister said a Law Revision Commission has been established within the Ministry of Legal Affairs and that commission will begin its work shortly. Staff have already been trained to ensure the continuous exercise of revising the Laws of Guyana.

“Momentous indeed as this occasion is, I ask that it not be looked at in isolation, but be viewed against the backdrop of what we are undertaking and we are executing …to improve the legal architecture and judicial landscape of our country”.

Pointing to several other projects, which have been done in keeping with improving the justice sector, the Minister spoke of new Magistrate’s courts that have been built or refurbished, and living quarters for Magistrates constructed in interior locations.

While speaking of the Administration’s commitment to the sector the Minister said he was not pleased with some occurrences within the fraternity.

“Only recently we launched the Law Reports. That was another exercise that endured a 30 odd years’ lapse. I said when I launched those reports that that exercise will continue as well. I said then that I would have hoped that the exercise would have been a cost recovery one, and would not have affected the national budget”.

On completion of that project, Minister Nandlall said a price was set after consulting with the bar, a price he said all felt was reasonable in terms of affordability and one which would have captured the cost of production for those reports.

“Unfortunately I am to report that the response from the Bar has been disappointing. We have piles and piles of report in stock and not being purchased despite my appeals to members of the practicing bar”.

The Minister said he has learnt of the horrendous reality of lawyers actually pirating the reports by way of photocopying and duplicating same, for sale.

“It’s a highly regrettable state of affairs coming from lawyers who are really the targets, the litigants will not buy reports, they were printed for lawyers,  and I thought they would have seen this as an initiative  they would partner with me on, to ensure that we have a reliable and professional and institutionalised method and system of law reporting”.

The Minister added that it is his hope that this will not be the case for the revised law, as he is still hoping that persons will start purchasing the Law Reports so as to facilitate the commencement of the process for the next set of law reports likewise the revised laws.