Updated Namlex register brings structure to complex legal thicket
Namlex, the comprehensive register of all Namibian laws, maintained and updated by the Legal Assistance Centre, has now evolved into three distinct databases. The 2017 Namlex Update was launched this week together with a completely new register, the Namlex Appendix 2017, and an updated register of all law annotations.
Describing the Namlex history, the Director of the Legal Assistance Centre, Toni Hancox, said “Understanding what laws are in force in Namibia is particularly complicated because of the nation’s complex political and legal history.”
The idea for Namlex came from the late Anton Lubowski. After his death, the work was continued by the Legal Assistance Centre. It was first published in 1997 and has been updated seven times since, mainly on the strength of the work done by Dianne Hubbard, the LAC’s Gender Research and Advocacy Project Coordinator. Namlex is available free of charge to any interested person, on the centre’s website.
From the previous update in 2015 to the latest that was released this week, the register has grown from the original Namlex to now include, as separate databases, the Appendix and the Annotated Laws.
The Legal Assistance Centre said the Office of the Attorney General has obtained funding for the updates up to the end of 2018. The next update will be done jointly with the Namlex Update Team, which consists of young lawyers from different government agencies who are being trained by the LAC. This public private project will also culminate in an update manual.
Keeping track of Keeping Track
Namlex Update 2017: Namlex contains a detailed description of every statute in force in Namibia, with a summary of the statute and citations to regulations, rules, notices, cases and commentary about each statute. The current update brings this document up to mid-November 2017.
Namlex Appendix 2017: Published this week for the first time, it is an accompanying index of all the multilateral treaties which are binding on Namibia. These treaties form part of the laws of Namibia, but up to now there was no publicly-available list of the treaties in force. The Namlex Appendix provides an entry for each treaty with a short description, information about how the treaty became binding on Namibia and the date on which this took place. Other entries give information about treaties which Namibia has signed but not yet ratified. This project has been conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, and is up to date to 23 November 2017.
Annotated Laws Update: Until recently, the actual text of a statue or regulation as it stands today could only be found in the original law in the Government Gazette, and by tracking the many amendments that followed the first promulgation of an act. It is a cumbersome process and often difficult to make sense of how they fit together. This is not very practical, as (for instance) the Criminal Procedure Act has been amended 16 times, while the Income Tax Act has been amended on 31 different occasions. These timelines are now sequentially structured as part of the Annotated Laws Update.
The Legal Assistance Centre said “Those with means could subscribe to a commercial service to get annotated copies of the laws with all amendments incorporated but these services are expensive as well as often being incomplete and inaccurate.”
“Several years ago, the Legal Assistance Centre was commissioned by the Parliamentary Support Project to prepare annotated statutes and post-Independence regulations which were made available on the Parliament and LAC websites. The LAC has now updated this database to be current up to mid-November 2017.”
Pictured at the launch of the Namlex Update as well as the new Namlex Appendix and the Annotated Laws, are the Director of the Legal Assistance Centre, Toni Hancox (left) and the LAC Coordinator for Gender Research and Advocacy Project, Dianne Hubbard.