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The concept of simple, clear and precise is important in enabling quality drafting of legislation to benefit the people.

These tools were key components of the discussion during the three-day workshop on legislation drafting for legal officers held at the Supreme Court’s conference hall.

Resource person Matthew Secomb with M/s. White & Case, a law firm based in Singapore said that the most important thing in the quality of drafting is that it has to be clear, simple, and concise because it’s important that the legislation be accessible to everybody and not just the judiciary and executive.

While drafting legislation, it is important to do a comparative legal research.

For instance, before the Constitution of Bhutan was enacted, the drafting committee studied Constitutions of more than 50 countries.

A proper research, comparative studies and holistic planning can contribute to quality legislation while poorly thought out legislation can lead to unintended consequences.

The participants also discussed the importance of putting effort in analysis of existing laws, policy options and assessment of practical implications while planning for quality legislation.

Matthew Secomb said that every country when considering its own laws looks at other countries’ laws. “It’s even more important for a smaller country like Bhutan, which is relatively new to democracy, and I think Bhutan can learn a lot from comparative law even though Bhutan has its own unique quality.”

According to him, the country’s unique quality is the importance given to the principle of happiness in drafting legislation. “We certainly learnt from the participants here on considering happiness while drafting legislation,” he said.

He added that the limit of comparative law is that each system has its own unique qualities and the problems faced by the countries.

The workshop also focused on eight points for planning legislation. They are problems that legislation seem to correct, justification of the government action, options for dealing with the problem, likely impact of each option, legal basis for legislation, administrative mechanism needed to ensure compliance, ascertain clarity, consistency and accessibility of legislation and see whether interested parties’ views are considered for review.

As drafting of legislation comes from the executive, most participants in the workshop were from government agencies.

“Legislation doesn’t just come from the parliament, but it comes from executives and others who are involved.” Matthew Secomb said. “The laws that form actual Acts in the parliament come from the executive.”

Bhutan National Legal Institute facilitated the workshop.

The High Court Acting Chief Justice Sangay Khandu awarded certificates to the participants.

Tenzin Namgyel and Tshering Namgyal

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