Law Reform Commission marks 10 years

The Samoa Law Reform Commission turned ten yesterday, and celebrated the occasion with a ceremony in their offices.

The organisation was established in 2008 to enable Samoa to formally review and examine its laws. In just 10 years, the commission has undertaken reviews of dozens of Samoa’s most important pieces of legislation.

Commissioner Telei’ai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo Seumanutafa said Samoa is still learning how best to engage with the commission model, and how to best benefit from it.

“Like any other legal transplant from overseas, the Commission needs time to take root, and we as Samoans need time to get used to this law reform commission setup,” she said.

Looking deeply into whether modern principles or customary concepts benefit Samoa more is just one of the ways the commission addresses Samoa’s laws.

“The most challenging thing is finding our own feet. How do you promote customs and traditions in formal laws? How do you accommodate the individual principles (Constitutional) in law making alongside the communal (Samoan customary setting) principles?

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“Now this, we must continue to try and address,” Telei’ai said.

Whatever the outcome, it must be relevant and useful, she continued.

Going forward, at least 21 outdated laws of Samoa are on the chopping block, following a recommendation earlier this year which was endorsed by Cabinet.

The commission also hopes to review the Family Laws of Samoa, a review endorsed by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

“This is not a small project, given what “family” means in Samoa, and to Samoans. 

“The Commission hopes to commence preliminary doctrinal, legislative, case law, text and scholarly article publications, overseas commission reports review etc, in early 2019.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi gave the keynote address at the celebrations, and told the commission team he knows the importance of allocating necessary resources to their work.

“For effective law making in Samoa, law reform plays a crucial role, through its consultative law reform process, in ensuring that our laws are suitable and relevant to the needs of our people. 

“For the Commission to move forward, we must allocate the necessary resources, time and money to improve its awareness and the process upon which law is made and reformed for the benefit of our people,” Tuilaepa said.

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