Our Current Projects
The Samoa Law Reform Commission (Commission) in accordance with its mandates under the Law Reform Commission Act 20008, recommended a project to the Office of the Attorney in March 2017, to consider and assess whether there is a need to regulate information sharing in Samoa.
The Term of Reference (TOR) was approved by the Attorney General’s Office in January 2018 and it required the Commission to:
- Consider and assess the issues on ‘exchage of information’ in Samoa between Government Ministries and agencies;
- Look at what laws and policies are in place that govern the ‘exchange of information’ in Samoa between Government Ministries and agencies;
- Consider similar laws and policies in other countries on ‘exchange of information’ between Government Ministries and agencies;Provide suitable options for Samoa.
On March 16, 2018, the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the review of the Law Reform Commission Act 2008 (LRC Act 2008) was approved by the Honourable Prime Minister. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) endorsed the same on 20 March 2018. The Terms of Reference are as follows:
- To review the LRC Act 2008 to ensure it is kept in a modern state to suit the current context of Samoa.
- To research and review best practices of law reform processes that suit Samoa’s context and have the same available in a Law Reform Project Handbook
- To work together with OAG, provide recommendations on a suitable framework for a new updated legislation and a Law Reform Project Handbook.
In August 2014, the Samoa Law Reform Commission (“Commission”) received a Terms of Reference (“TOR”) from the Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) to review the Property Law Act 1952 (“Samoa PLA”). The TOR required the Commission to:
- Undertake research and analysis of the Samoa PLA;
- Provide a report for recommendations on the review; and
- Carry out any other matter necessary to undertake the review.
- The Samoa PLA, now 66 years old, is largely based on the old New Zealand Property Law Act 1952 (“NZ PLA 1952”) which New Zealand has comprehensively reviewed and updated, resulting in the new Property Law Act 2007 (“NZ PLA 2007”). For Samoa, this is the first comprehensive review to the Samoa PLA since enactment in 1952
On 4 August 2017, the Hon Prime Minister accepted and endorsed the Terms of Reference on a Project entitled ‘The Review of the Laws of Samoa’ initiated by the Commission. The Commission refers to this Project as ‘Toe Timata le Upega – O Tulafono a Samoa’.
The Terms of Reference are as follows:
i) To identify the current fabric of laws (all 285 existing Acts of Parliament) of Samoa;
ii) To identify which Ministries, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), or Constitutional Offices (COs) are responsible for which laws (legal authority); and
iii) To identify and confirm from Ministries/SOEs/COs any outdated laws under their administration and recommend removal, updating or replacing
In March 2015, the Samoa Law Reform Commission (Commission) received a Terms of Reference (TOR) from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to review the Narcotics Act 1967 (Samoa’s Narcotics Act). The TOR resulted from various concerns on the outdated nature of Samoa’s Narcotics Act, drug – related cases taking up a lot of the Court’s time and resources, and reports of a certain sector of Samoan society which uses methamphetamine.
The Samoa Law Reform Commission (“Commission”) received a reference from the Attorney General in 2008 to review all Ministry laws with a view to proposing a framework for uniformity in Government Ministry laws. Given the broad scope of the reference, the Attorney General in 2012 narrowed the review to focus specifically on the Ministerial and Departmental Arrangements Act 2003 (the ‘MDAA’ review), with the following Terms of Reference (“TOR”):
– How the MDAA can be updated to reflect the current Ministerial and Departmental structures of all Government Ministries and Corporations; and
– How the MDAA can better become the uniform law establishing government Ministries and related matters.
In November 2008, Cabinet and the Attorney General provided the Samoa Law Reform Commission (Commission) with a reference to review and reform the laws regulating Samoan Court processes. The reference included the review and reform of the District Courts Act 1969 (DCA), Judicature Ordinance 1961 (JO), the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 1980 (SCR) and Magistrates’ Court Rules 1971 (MCR). Given the size of this project, the Commission broke up the report into parts.
The Samoa Law Reform Commission received a reference from the Honourable Prime Minister, in April 2015, to address abuses of powers of a Matai Sa’o (titular head) of the family. The terms of reference are a response to common complaints of abuse of power by the Matai Sa’o primarily related to matai titles and customary land which has resulted in numerous disputes between family members and the family Sa’o.
In March 2013, the Samoa Law Reform Commission (Commission) was requested by the Attorney General to review laws relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol with the objective of reducing the harm caused by alcohol in Samoa and to make recommendations for reform.
The Attorney General of Samoa in a letter dated 27 November 2008 asked the Samoa Law Reform Commission (“Commission”) to:
– examine the current legal protection of traditional knowledge including the extent of legislative protection under intellectual property laws of Samoa;
– examine Samoa’s obligations under international and regional conventions and agreements relating to traditional knowledge; and
– make recommendations for improvements to legislative protection of Samoa’s traditional knowledge, if further protection is recommended
On 5 February 2013, the Samoa Law Reform Commission received a reference from the Attorney General to assess, if:
– it is appropriate in the context of Samoa to have a Sex Offender’s Register (SOR); and
– if such a register would help in the deterrence of sexual re-offending?
In November 2008, The SLRC received from the Cabinet the reference to review and reform the District Court Act 1969. This reference formed part of the Commission’s review and reform of Samoa’s legislation governing the courts.
On the 01 February 2012, the Prime Minister and the Attorney General asked the Samoa Law Reform Commission to examine the feasibility and appropriateness of setting up a National Heritage Board to preserve Samoa’s various national heritage sites. The terms of reference specifically ask the Commission to research how national heritage boards overseas are established and operated.
The review of the Care and Protection legislation to protect children and discusses existing legislation in Samoa that addresses care and protection issues relating to children in light of obligations under CRC. It will also make specific references to findings in a report by the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development on the Legislative Compliance Review of Samoa with the Convention on the Rights of a Child in 2006. Given the number of Acts involved, there will be a series of papers following this paper. This initial paper will focus on the Constitution of Samoa, the Infants Ordinance 1961 and the Young Offenders Act 2007.
Cabinet has referred down the freedom of religion issue to SLRC to look into ways in which we can legislate to bring harmony into the Village setting through the Village Fono Act. This now coincides with a general reference into the Village Fono Act which SLRC carried out in collaboration with MWCSD and other law and justice sector agencies.
The second major reference of the Criminal Law review series this project involves the Criminal Procedure Act 1972. This is a procedural law that sets out the series of steps or actions to be followed in order to validly administer justice. General rules are often inadequate for this purpose. Failure to provide important detail reduces the ability of the law to guide action. This review is intended to make recommendations which will attempt to ensure that individual rights are protected through the just application of rules, while not losing sight of the interests of society as a whole
The review of the Commissions of Inquiry 1964 aims at improving and updating legislation governing any Commissions of Inquiry established in Samoa. It looks at appointment of members of the Commission, their powers, the scope of the investigative jurisdiction, and people entitled to be heard before the Commission and the process of publicizing their findings.
The review of the Coroners Ordinance 1959 aims at improving and updating legislation governing the coroners work. There is a great need for a comprehensive and appropriate guide to assist and regulate the work of coroners in Samoa.
The review of the Law Practitioners Act 1976 aims at improving and updating legislation governing the legal profession in Samoa and also taking into account developments and trends in comparable jurisdictions. It also seeks to strengthen the disciplinary procedures contained in the Act to improve public confidence in the legal profession.
The review of the Prisons Act focuses on the shift towards a correctional approach whereby prisoners will be rehabilitated for integration into society when they have completed their sentence; hence a new correctional-focused legislation for prison administration in Samoa. The result of this review will be improving prison administration in Samoa that complies with international obligations under the relevant human rights conventions to which Samoa is a party, to the extent that it does not conflict with Samoan culture, customs and traditions.
In November 2008, the Samoa Law Reform Commission was given a reference into the laws regulating the Samoan Court processes by the Cabinet and the Attorney General. The reference includes the review and reform of the Judicature Ordinance 1961, District Court Act 1969, the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure Rules) and Magistrate Court Rules.
One of the 3 major references into Criminal Law, the review into the Crimes Ordinance 1961 was referenced to SLRC by both Cabinet and by the Attorney General. The project encompasses the review into not only modernizing the language of the law but also modernizing the mechanisms by which criminal offences such as rape, assault, and witchcraft to name a few are laid out and prosecuted. This review is done in an effort to keep the cultural integrity of Samoan values and tradition intact within the overall language of the law