Legislative Drafting Workshops Seek To Bridge Gaps In Process

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The time taken to draft legislation in states around the region could soon be reduced. This following the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project’s workshop series on drafting instructions and drafting legislation.

In total, 28 representatives from nine CARICOM member states registered as participants in the two workshop streams. During the sessions, gaps in the legislative drafting process were highlighted and proposals for bridging them were made.

Professor Velma Netwon, regional project director for the justice sector reform project, explained that as part of the fact-finding mission for the IMPACT Justice Project several stakeholders made overwhelming requests to host the two workshops as activities early in the Project’s life.

“Legislative drafting techniques and procedures play an important role in ensuring the success of justice sector reform. Across the region, the public is very critical of the length of time it takes to draft legislation and there needs to be a greater understanding between those who want legislation drafted and those who draft legislation as a means for making the process smoother. We have honoured the request of the Project’s stakeholders,” she said.

“The participants from these two workshop streams were encouraged to share their experiences and ideas with a view to forming a bridge between the two groups in the legislative drafting process.”

At the end of the workshop series, participants from both sessions identified items to be included in manuals which could be used by persons asked to draft instructions for legislation and those who are required to draft the legislation.

“When completed, these manuals will promote standardised and consistent drafting techniques for use by public administrations across the region and help to improve the quality of legislation produced,” she noted. “They should be ready by the end of the first quarter in 2015.”

The sessions included permanent secretaries, representatives from government offices, regional institutions and legislative drafters from CARICOM member states served by the IMPACT Justice Project.

Participants paid rapt attention to John Wilson and Segametsi Mothibatsela, experts on legislative drafting from the United Kingdom and the CARICOM Secretariat respectively, who facilitated the two workshops.

Presentations and discussions over the first three day workshop centred on the preparation of drafting instructions and plans for drafting legislation while the second session focused on the need for regional coherence, legislative procedures and legislative style.

Professor Newton added that part of the capacity-building component of the IMPACT Justice Project is to increase the pool of legal drafters available in the region as another means for reducing the time taken to draft legislation.

“The University of the West Indies is a key partner in the implementation of this justice sector reform project and we are working together with tertiary level institutions around the region for developing capacity in legislative drafting,” she said. “Activities in this area are in the works and you will hear more about them shortly.”

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