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'Rule of law cannot exist without transparent legal system'

Feb 15, 2011, 12:58 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

David M. Desborough special advisor of Lexis Nexis, publisher of the 2009 revised edition of the Laws of The Gambia for the Commonwealth Legal Research and Legislation Publishing Solution London Office has opined that the rule of law cannot exist without a transparent legal system.

David, who was speaking on Friday at the launching of the revised laws of The Gambia, said the main components of such a system include a clear set of laws that are freely and easily accessible to all literate persons, strong enforcement structures and an independent Judiciary.

Lexis Nexis is committed to supporting the rule of law in a variety of ways throughout the world, he stated, noting that in the context of the revised laws project and others like it, they take the view that there can be no rule of law unless there is access to the basic source of law.

"The government was keen to deliver a result quickly. The 1990 edition was 20 years out of date in that much of the legislation had been amended, and new legislation had in that time been added to the statue books," he added.

According to him, the project was a high risk project as it demanded accuracy and quality assurance, and the need to get it right the first time.

He pointed out that the Gambia government recognized the need for a partner, who could be relied upon to sustain the revision and updating process regularly, in a cost-effective way.

"The aim includes the provision of access to current laws quickly, accurately and constantly to meet the demanding needs of improving the administration of justice," he noted.

For this reason, he continued, Lexis Nexis has entered into a six-year agreement which is extendable, and which demonstrates the company's commitment to the partnership and to the underlying aims of this venture.

He added: "The solution demanded a publishing partner which could deliver and sustain technological leadership by leveraging electronic publishing skills. Lexis Nexis is a business which delivers nearly 50% of its $3billion portfolio of publication via the internet, and could ensure that in a relatively short period The Gambia's laws will be available to any subscriber throughout the world."

He is of the conviction that improved access to the Gambia's laws will directly benefit the public, as well as the legal community.

"The people will in time become more knowledgeable of law thus underpinning the rule of law. Overseas investors and donors will be able to view the legal infrastructure of the country transparently and are likely to be more willing to consider investment and financial support for the country’s development," he further stated.

He also expressed his conviction that the initiative will directly or indirectly stimulate greater prosperity, and help to alleviate poverty in the country.