Law Society get public requests to explain bills

Uncertainty from the villages and the general public about three proposed pieces of legislation to make the Land and Titles Court autonomous has driven the Samoa Law Society to provide them assistance interpreting the changes. 

President of the Samoa Law Society, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria, said over the past several weeks they have received requests from locals and those living abroad for information about the impact of the bills. 

In response to queries from the Samoa Observer, Leiautalesa said those that have requested help in understanding the bills included villages, churches, non-government organisations and Samoans living abroad.

“We have been providing focused assistance to these particular groups to assist them to understand the Bills and how the Bills will affect them,” said the President. 

“Many villages have expressed the desire to have the Bills explained to their village fono so that they can form their own opinions about them. 

“We have been providing this assistance because it is important that people have a proper understanding of the Bills before they decide whether they will support them or not.” 

The bills that are currently reviewed by a Special Parliamentary Committee are the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020. 

The Committee is currently holding public consultation on the bills. 

The Samoa Law Society, which was one of the first groups to present their submission last month, are yet to be called in again to complete their submission. 

When the Samoa Law Society presented their submission last month they were told they are to continue their submission on 22 May. 

But this did not happen. 

According to Leiataualesa the Society has not been told when their next appearance will be 

“We have sought confirmation from the Office of the Clerk and are now awaiting this advice,” he said. 

In terms of the public interest that the three bills have attracted over the months, Leiataualesa said laws can only be effective if those affected including those that will implemented consulted prior to being developed.

“It has been encouraging to see that people from all over Samoa and Samoans overseas are expressing their views about the bills,” he said. 

“This is how laws should be developed. 

“Many people have expressed the same concerns as the Samoa Law Society, based on their own careful assessment of the bills. 

“However, in many cases, people have been unable to form their own views because they simply do not know enough about these important Bills and need assistance to understand the more technical parts.”

The President added while it has been good to see the increasing levels of interest in the bills, there is still important work to be done in helping people to understand them. 

“The S.L.S. continues to assist all those who wish to understand the bills in more detail,” he said.

“Our work is not intended to undermine Government or the current consultations that are being carried out by the Parliament Select Committee. 

“Our concern is with enabling our people to have an in-depth understanding of the Bills, so that they can make informed decisions about whether the Bills are acceptable, or whether they need to undergo more consultation and review.”

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