Port-of-Spain---6 Sept. 2006---For the first time in 20 years, government will be publishing a compendium of the revised laws of this country, Legal Affairs Minister Christine Kangaloo announced yesterday in the Senate.

She said the revision exercise had been completed and the ministry had requested that the Central Tenders Board put out tenders for publishing the compendium of 494 laws, with 22,020 pages contained in 32 volumes.

Kangaloo noted that it would be published both in hard copy, electronically on interactive CDs and on the internet. She reported that the laws were last revised in 1980 and since then two supplements had been published, ending in 1986.

She said the ministry had been working assiduously on the compendium and that the process of revising laws was "not an easy one", as there were not many law revisers in the country and it was a highly technical exercise.

It was produced by the Law Revision Commission, whose mandate is to prepare, publish and maintain a revised edition of the written laws of this country.

Opposition Senator Tim Gopeesingh said previously, it had been a "logistical nightmare" for lawyers and parliamentarians to establish what changes in legislation took place after 1980.

He said the compendium is supposed to be updated every 10 years and he was gratified to see that the Ministry of Legal Affairs had completed it.

He noted that the UNC had started the project in 2001, but when the PNM administration took it over it was not given "deserving attention" and their "sloppiness and tardiness" led to the five-year delay.

Kangaloo rebutted that the UNC showed a lack of "speed" in the project's completion, noting that in 2000, the former Attorney General who piloted the bill predicted that it would be completed in one and half years.

Independent Senator Dana Seetahal, who joined other senators in praising the revision of the laws and Minister Kangaloo's efforts, questioned whether there was a system in place currently for a continuous updating of law.

She said there were difficulties in amending legislation, as parliament members had to go physically to search the parliamentary library and some members had unwittingly made contributions based on obsolete laws. She also expressed her concern that many serious amendments were not known to legal officers.

"Some lawyers did not know that the Bail Act had been amended," she commented.

Seetahal noted that the poor circulation of amendments and new laws was something that needed to be addressed and she advised that the bills, including the new recommended constitution, also be circulated in the media and made available to the public prior to reaching parliament.

The Senate also passed an act to amend the Law Revision Act so that responsibility for law revision was changed from the Attorney General to the Legal Affairs Minister and the Law Revision Commission.

Source: Trinidad Express
Julien Neaves jneaves@trinidadexpress.com