Advancing the rule of law in the Maldives

14 December 2015 | Gaythri Raman


Two of the most important sources of law in any country are legislation and case law. If ambiguity or vagueness exists in either of these, then a state of general legal uncertainty prevails. Similarly, the larger a body of statute and case law becomes, the greater the potential for legal uncertainty should these laws be out-of-date, inaccessible and unconsolidated. In such circumstances, access to and knowledge of the law is effectively denied. An inevitable consequence of this is the impediment of the administration of justice.

- TJ Viljoen, CEO of Asia Pacific,
LexisNexis Legal & Professional in his speech delivered at the launch of the Consolidated Laws of Maldives, August 7th 2015 in Malé.

As a business, LexisNexis relies on a sound legal structure to thrive, one in which those who administer justice and those who seek it reference the law, apply it and are bound by it. We strive in multiple ways to create, enrich and deliver premium legal content to legal professionals. Our work results in providing clarity to the law and this in turn, enables the rule of law to flourish, creating a sound economy.

Not all countries in the world have this ideal legal structure and that is where our CEO's words serve as a reminder of LexisNexis' role in advancing the rule of law.

I met Mohamed Anil, the Attorney General of Maldives, in a conference in June 2014. We quickly discovered a mutual passion for the law, and he began to tell me about his country, the challenges they face and their vision for the future. I learned that the laws were not consolidated, so someone who wanted to reference the law would not be assured of knowing all the subsequent amendments that came into effect. This resulted in uncertainty, and the Attorney General recognised it. Maldives laws were enacted in the national language, Dhivehi, and most have not been translated into English, making it a challenge for foreign investors to do business in the country.

They knew that the laws of the country needed to be made more accessible to their citizens and also to the rest of the world, but they were overwhelmed. It is a mammoth undertaking, and they lacked the resources and the skills to do so. Our chat turned into an earnest discussion about how we at LexisNexis could apply our knowledge and skills towards supporting the Maldives. Thus, a powerful partnership came into being. We created a team, applied our resources, editorial skills and our proprietary technology towards consolidating all legislation, translating it into English, and making it available, both in the printed format and via a bi-lingual online legal website.

Both the Attorney General's Office and LexisNexis have assembled teams of the best people for the project. Everyone understands the significance of this work and how it would benefit this country and the world at large. We created a structure, and a process for receiving, compiling and managing the laws, and we also created a new referencing framework for the country, setting precedents by creating new terminology which would enable a clear reading and understanding of these laws.

Come early 2016, the complete set of consolidated and translated laws will be made available, resulting in a nation empowered by knowledge of the law. As we work on this project together, we at LexisNexis have committed to building competency and capacity for the Attorney General's Office, whose staff will learn from customised training workshops designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge to sustain this work in the future.

Partnering with the Maldives in this undertaking has enabled us to appreciate our own work more. Using our resources and expertise in enabling access to laws has allowed us to directly impact society in such a positive way, and creating a structure for businesses to flourish and succeed. This journey has inspired our employees to think innovatively and reminded all of us yet again that our work matters, and that we contribute to society in a significant way. It has not only created goodwill throughout the region but it clearly also makes good business sense.

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