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Civil Code Reform Project Committee Members Appointed

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - The Governments of Saint Lucia and Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have embarked on a three-phase project aimed at bringing badly needed reform to the island’s Civil Code. On Tuesday, members of three sub-committees overseeing the initiative were handed their letters of appointments.

Preparatory work on revising Saint Lucia’s Civil Code began in 2002. Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Senator Petrus Compton said the eventual implementation of the new code would signal a record achievement for Saint Lucia. “That is what the law and important laws like the Civil Code really are, they define our culture, define our social relations, defining who we are and how we relate to each other,” he said.

He went on to explain that, “the project will seek to ensure that the values and principles that underpin family law, succession and inheritance, property and conveyance in law are reflected in a modern way in the Code. We also want to reflect the interests and values of our business community which is why the business sector is so well represented by way of committee membership in this project.”

Phase one of the project is devoted to the reform process and began in July 2002 and will end in December 2003. The various committees will consult and produce a report on the specific aspects of the code that require reform. Phase two, expected to last eight months, will be devoted to drafting a new code, while the third and final phase will focus on implementation, via a communications policy, aimed at sensitising the various segments of society to the code.

The Civil Code Reform Project Manager, Gordon Carnegie noted that the existing code needed to be reformed in order to keep pace with the rapid changes taking place in society. According to him, the present reform initiative in Saint Lucia will draw on the twenty years of thought and debate which went into the Civil Code of Quebec promulgated in 1994. “Twenty years represents an enormous amount of time and debate and the Quebec experience in developing its new Code will be a guide, one of several that will be used and so the committees which are appointed today will ensure that their recommendations reflect the unique realities of Saint Lucia,” Carnegie said.

With the last major revision to the Civil Code being made some forty-five years ago, Government’s commitment towards reforming and reshaping the island’s legal infrastructure continues full speed ahead. The latest initiative is being seen as just one of many aimed at radically transforming the legal landscape of Saint Lucia.

Government has also begun a comprehensive exercise to completely revise the laws of the land. Access to the laws of Saint Lucia is expected to become more readily available under that project, due to come to an end within the next two years. Efforts to modify and modernise the Laws of Evidence are also at an advanced stage.

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