Legal Reform Department

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The Legal Reform Department is the principal Law Reform Agency in Jamaica and is one of the four Legal Departments in the public sector.  The Department had its genesis in 1973 as a Division under the Ministry of Justice and later gained Departmental status.

The mandate of the Legal Reform Department is:

“To keep under review the laws applicable in Jamaica with a view to its systematic reform to meet the changing needs of the Jamaican Society, and to assist in the implementation of law reform proposals in accordance with Government policy.

The Department therefore performs the dual functions of recommending law reform and implementing law reform recommendations, and in addition, performs various ancillary or supplemental duties.

The specific functions are to:

  • Undertake in-depth research into various areas of law in Jamaica, in the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions;
  • Prepare study papers on domestic and comparative laws;
  • Recommend the introduction of new legislation or the amendment of existing legislation or changes to legal procedures;
  • Provide advisory services at meetings of the:
    • Legislative Committee;
    • Select Committees of the Houses of Parliament; and
    • Other Committees considering law reform Bills.
  • Assist in and monitor the implementation of law reform proposals which have been approved by Cabinet;
  • Liaise with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, other interest groups and individuals on law reform issues;
  • To promote and maintain communication with law reform agencies of other jurisdictions and with the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the International Institutions on law reform issues.

The Department also performs certain duties vital to the implementation of law reform proposals, such as:

  • Preparation of Cabinet Submissions;
  • Examining and advising on draft Bills through participation in meetings or by written comments;
  • Attendance at meetings of the Legislation Committee and Parliamentary Committees for the purpose of advising on law reform Bills; and
  • Preparation of briefs for the presentation to Parliament of law reform Bills.

Additionally, the Department’s representatives participate in the negotiation of treaties and other agreements/arrangements between Jamaica and other countries for the provision of mutual legal assistance, and in regional and international meetings (particularly those involving CARICOM and Commonwealth countries considering law reform initiatives).

Its functions, in relation to making recommendations, include conducting in-depth research into and analysis of the existing Laws of Jamaica for the purpose of identifying deficiencies, anomalies, ambiguities or other problems arising thereunder, conducting comparative research and analysis of the law in other jurisdictions, and determining appropriate remedial approaches which may be taken.

This involves, depending on the subject matter, the preparation of research papers or working papers for the purpose of consultative/eliciting views of the relevant stakeholders or the public at large.

The Department also provides advice on law reform proposals emanating from other sources, such as Ministries, Departments and Agencies; members of the Judiciary; private legal practitioners or other interested persons or organizations.

Law Revision Secretariat

The Law Revision Secretariat is governed by the Law Revision Act. The main functions of the Secretariat include:

Textual changes to the Laws of Jamaica
(Statutes and Subsidiary Legislation)
Typesetting and proofreading the pages of:
(i) New statutes and subsidiary legislation
(ii) Amendments to existing statutes and subsidiary legislation
Data entry and proofreading of the pages of the loose-leaf Guide to Subsidiary Legislation