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Article

Plain Language

A Promising Tool for Quality Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2018
Keywords plain language, clarity, precision, accessibility, interpretation
Authors Kally K.L. Lam LLB
AbstractAuthor's information

    The hypothesis of this article is that plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can improve the quality of legislation. Further to this, the article tries to prove that quality legislation can also make the law more accessible to its general audience. With regard to quality, the article assesses plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques using Helen Xanthaki’s criteria of quality in legislation, i.e. that it should be clear, precise and unambiguous. With regard to accessibility, it is defined broadly as to include readability. I will first assess whether plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can meet the expectations of its general audience and second discuss whether legislation drafted in plain language with innovative techniques passes the usability tests.


Kally K.L. Lam LLB
Kally K.L. Lam, LLB (University of Hong Kong), LLM (University of London) is Solicitor (Hong Kong).
Article

The Pursuit of Clarity, Precision and Unambiguity in Drafting Retrospective Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2013
Keywords retrospectivity, clarity, precision, unambiguity, legislative drafting
Authors Elias Turatsinze
AbstractAuthor's information

    The hypothesis of this paper is that clarity, precision and unambiguity are the essential tools for expressing retrospective intent, which is a pre-requisite for quality and validity of retrospective legislation. The main objective of this work is to show that retrospective laws are valid, if the retrospective intent is expressed in clear, precise and unambiguous words within the statute. The term retrospectivity is used broadly to describe any legislation or decision affecting pre-enacting conduct. It encompasses statutes affecting the pre-enactment events, administrative regulations or decisions which look back in time and judicial decisions that overturn prior decisions. All these areas cannot be covered in this limited piece of work. Thus, the emphasis in this work will be put on retrospectivity of statutes at the drafting stage. Although it may be referred to generally, retrospective delegated legislation is outside the scope of this work. Particular attention will be directed towards the importance of clarity, precision and unambiguity in attaining quality and validity of retrospective legislation.


Elias Turatsinze
Elias Turatsinze graduated in Legislative Drafting (LLM) from the University of London- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2012.
Article

The Drafter’s Role in the Drafting Process

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2013
Keywords drafter, drafting process, techniques, scrutiny
Authors Mico Augustin
AbstractAuthor's information

    Every government needs legislation to cover all issues transposing obligations in the manner required by the initiator and with respect to constitutional obligations and rules that provide for the conduct of society.
    Every legislative drafter should strive to achieve a law that is people oriented. The idea is to serve by extending legislative benefits to them in the best possible manner. Drafting is not a simple transcription or translation of administrative or executive guidelines, but is the command of legislative intent. It is a mixture of vision, mission and design, which brings out a workable proposition considering the background of a problem and foreseeing the ramifications of the legislative action. Drafting always supposes precision, brevity and clarity. Drafting should be compared to a focus of technical knowledge of a special kind that put together minds to produce a unity of thought enunciated as a command.
    In order to produce quality legislation, drafters need undergraduate law training, followed by specialised postgraduate training in legislative studies, combined with hands on experience in a drafting office with an experienced senior drafter.


Mico Augustin
Legislative Drafter and Advisor of the Rwanda Parliament/Chamber of Deputies. Email: micog2009@yahoo.fr
Article

The Principle of Ultra Vires and the Local Authorities’ Decisions in England

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2013
Keywords ultra vires, administrative decisions, legislative drafting, validity and invalidity of local authority administrative decisions, misuse of discretion
Authors Charles Aguma
AbstractAuthor's information

    The hypothesis of this article is that valid administrative decisions from local authorities are guaranteed via clear and precise enabling clauses in the primary legislation. The article argues that the style of drafting local authorities’ legislations influences decisions taken by local authorities. First, legislations need to be drafted in a style that clearly and precisely spells out the limits of powers of the local authorities in order to provide sufficient guidance to local authorities’ administrators to act lawfully. In attempting to exercise implied powers conferred by the imprecise enabling legislation, however, local authorities tend to go beyond intended legal powers and as a result take unreasonable, arbitrary and invalid decisions. More so, drafters rarely provide sufficient guidance about which considerations are properly relevant to the exercise of discretion and which are not. Secondly, obscure, wide and ambiguous enabling clauses in the primary legislations are substantial causes of courts’ misinterpretation of legislation as understanding the limits of the powers of the local authorities is a challenge. On the other hand, it is questionable whether the whole range of activities performed by a local authority by invoking implied powers, while exercising discretion, under the umbrella of doing anything that is calculated to facilitate or is conducive to or incidental to the discharge of any of its functions can be regarded as lawful. This article attempts to respond to that question. Although the principle of ultra vires requires the strict observance of the limits of the powers conferred in legislation, local authorities tend to invoke widely drafted provisions to perform activities that are said to be incidental to the express powers of which courts may declare invalid.


Charles Aguma
Charles Aguma graduated in Legislative Drafting (LLM) from the University of London- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2012.
Article

Scrutiny of Legislation in Uganda: A Case for Reform

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2012
Keywords legislative scrutiny, emerging trends
Authors Isabel Omal
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article seeks to explain the significance of carrying out extensive legislative scrutiny in any jurisdiction, with emphasis being placed on the Ugandan experience as far as legislative scrutiny is done. As Parliaments all over the world continue to make laws that govern their citizens, it is only right that before any law is enacted, there must be adequate mechanism to ensure quality in the law in terms of substance and effect of the legislative proposal which ultimately impacts on good governance. Best practices and emerging trends in legislative scrutiny is drawn from the United Kingdom and Australia, which have put in place elaborate procedures and mechanism to ensure that all their legislative proposals are thoroughly scrutinized before they passed into law: and that even after the law has been enacted, it can be evaluated to see the effect of the law. Pre-legislative scrutiny and post-legislative scrutiny are thus important tools to ensure quality in legislation.


Isabel Omal
The author is a Legislative Lawyer working at the Law Commission in Uganda; she is also a fellow of the Ford Foundation-IFP scholarship and a member of Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel (CALC).
Practice

Bicameralism or Unicameralism

A Case of the United Kingdom and Uganda

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3-4 2010
Keywords unicameralism, bicameralism, legislative system of Uganda, legislative system of the UK
Authors Esther Majambere
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a unicameral legislative system and that of a bicameral legislative system. A unicameral legislature has one chamber whereas a bicameral legislature has two chambers as this article shows in detail.In any democratic state, Parliament is the only organ given power to make laws. Most Constitutions define legislation as the central function of parliament. This is supported by its very name ‘the Legislature’. The law making processes in a unicameral legislature are more less the same as those in a bicameral legislature as this article discusses. The only difference is that in a bicameral system the law has to be approved by both chambers. The article therefore explores whether the second chamber is necessary.Bicameralism seems to work best in countries that are larger or socially and ethnically diverse. It helps to resolve regional conflict. In some countries with a bicameral legislative system, the upper house is used as a way of reserving representation for certain societal groups and or to replace a further check on the power of the Lower House. The Parliament of UK is a bicameral legislature with the House of Lords (upper house) and the House of Commons (lower house). The House of Lords includes two different types of members- the Lord Spiritual (the senior bishops of the Church of England) and the Lords Temporal (members of the peerage upper ranks of the British nobility) elected by the population at large, but are appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Lords also performed a judicial role through the Law Lords prior to the opening of the Supreme Court. In theory, supreme legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament; in practice real power is vested in the House of Commons, as will be discussed in this article. Therefore how many chamber a parliament should have is a controversial question in constitutional law.


Esther Majambere
Esther Majambere is a Senior Legal Officer at the Uganda Law Reform Commission in Kampala, Uganda.
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