As published on jerseyeveningpost.com, Thursday 8th May, 2019.
Jersey could play a ‘leadership role’ in helping other small jurisdictions around the world review their laws and develop new legislation, says former Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache.
He said that the Island already played a key role within the Commonwealth and could draw on the strength of a mature legal framework to assist other territories.
Sir Philip made the comments in response to suggestions by a legal academic at the Jersey Institute of Law that small jurisdictions, such as the Crown Dependencies, should work together in drafting laws and reviewing legislation.
Professor Claire de Than set out her argument in her regular JEP column published in yesterday’s edition.
She said: ‘Small jurisdictions, including those of the Channel Islands, need just as many laws as everyone else; indeed, their needs are often more complex, since their laws may come from a variety of sources and be written in more than one language.’
Professor de Than adds that small states often lack the infrastructure or resources to create their own laws and often rely on importing them from jurisdictions which may be very different.
‘It is time to work together efficiently and creatively,’ she argued.
Sir Philip said: ‘I think it is a good idea. I think Jersey can play a leadership role in helping other small jurisdictions and to an extent it already does through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
‘The Jersey branch is very active for a small community and does give quite a lot of help to other Commonwealth jurisdictions.
‘We could probably do more in terms of law reform and law drafting. It is something that could be looked at.’
He suggested that an institution could be created with members from the various jurisdictions, with each perhaps providing funding at a level according to its size and economic strength.
‘We are bigger than most of these other small territories and I think that we have a legally mature system which is independent and which does not rely exclusively on the UK.
‘For other small jurisdictions, as far as law reform and or the drafting of new legislation is concerned, it is probably a very good idea to have some sort of central organisation upon which they can draw.’
He added that UK law was often ‘inappropriate’ for smaller jurisdictions.
Sir Philip, who is the editor of the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review, explained: ‘The problem for the Channel Islands is that it is a ‘mixed jurisdiction’ which draws on both common [derived from custom and precedents set by courts as opposed to statute] and civil law [a body of rules that defines and protects the private rights of citizens].
‘For those parts which are based in common law we probably could make a contribution.’
In her column, Professor de Than also suggests that small jurisdictions often did not have the resources, expertise or interest within their own communities to enable meaningful debate on law reforms and drafting.
Sir Philip said that he thought that the Island was unusually well placed to discuss legal issues.
‘The Channel Islands are the only small jurisdictions which have a law review where these things are discussed and Jersey is one of only two which has its own law school,’ he added. ‘I think that these things are discussed in a way that they are not in other small jurisdictions.’