By Benjamin Flowers
After seven years of preparation, the Government of Belize has officially published the latest edition of the Substantive Laws of Belize.
The latest edition, the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2011, represents the state of the law up to December 31 for that year, including over 50 Acts of Parliament passed between 2003-2011, among other changes. Each Act is in a booklet, grouped into 18 volumes.
Through the update, the review team removed laws that were repealed, included laws that needed to be added, and updated laws to reflect changes that were made during the reference period.
Deputy Solicitor General, Albert Edwards explained that the law review began as a pilot project in 2009, to update the laws so they reflect Belize’s arrangements with the Caribbean Community’s Single Market Economy (CSME). The project was later expanded to include all laws.
“Before 2011 there were 360 Acts. This updated version has some 413 Acts in it,” Edwards said. “There is every intention to update the laws again in as short a time as possible.”
He added that the Attorney General’s office intends to update the ministry’s website to include the new law. That update, however, is not foreseen in the immediate future.
The update was done by a legal review team, empowered by the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize. The team comprised of legal research officers, clerks responsible for the formatting and typing, and proofreaders.
Edwards also explained that because reviews of this magnitude are not done often, Section 13 of the Law Revision Act makes provision for the Ministry to appoint an officer called a “Law Revision Counsel” to be appointed for the continuous update and maintenance of the revised edition.
GOB outsourced the printing of the finished product to a regional law review company in Anguilla. That company was also responsible for preparing the CD-ROM, which includes searchable PDF format menus with hyperlinks, indexing for keyword search, and bookmarks.
The last time the law was updated was in 2003. As a part of the process, the new revised edition could not come into effect until the Attorney General signs off on it through a Statutory Instrument.