Legislation and case law are the two most important primary sources of law. While many countries now enjoy access to legislation and jurisprudence at the click of a mouse, there remain several for whom reliable and efficient access to up-to-date and properly indexed research material still seems a long way off.
LexisNexis is deeply committed to making a contribution to the development of nations in Africa and across the world. For this reason, in 2003, LexisNexis established its "Primary Law" division – a team of editors specialised in the creation of effective and up-to-date legal referencing products in countries where this does not currently exist, or has been neglected for some time.
If access to primary sources of law is restricted or cumbersome, knowledge of the law is effectively denied. In such circumstances, the government, the legal profession and the general public have no certainty as to the content or application of the law. This poses overwhelming challenges to the fair and efficient administration of justice, not to mention anxiety amongst would-be investors.
Based in South Africa, the Primary Law team's mission is to improve the effectiveness of the legal systems of the countries with which we partner: empowering government and citizens alike, promoting the rule of law and facilitating transparency and good governance. We believe that the provision of adequate access to legislation and case law can play a vital role in achieving this. We are also strong advocates of the potential of electronic legal research products to promote access to a country's laws to an ever-widening digital audience.
We also recognise that the laws of any country evolve constantly, and that research tools are of limited use without training in how to maximise their potential. Consequently, our publishing solutions include, as standard, training packages in legal editing and legal research tools for government officials and lawyers.
No international legal publisher has initiated a service as tailor-made to the needs of developing countries as LexisNexis' is. This site showcases the tried and tested solutions offered by the Primary Law team as it partners with governments, and often with donors, to develop the reliable legal reference frameworks that peaceful, stable and prosperous nations require.
What can law revision achieve?
In short, the restoration of an effective means of accessing laws. In a short time frame (under a year), LexisNexis can edit and publish, both in print and electronically, a revised edition of all the laws in force. This revised edition will consolidate all amendments made over time, incorporate new laws and omit repealed or spent laws. The editing process can also be tailored to include other minor changes to the text of the laws. Such changes usually represent a "tidying up" – addressing minor errors and inconsistencies.
Click here to watch a report on the transformational effect of our 2011 law revision project in Grenada. This was the first revision of laws there for 20 years.