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The post of Law Commissioner appears to have been first created by section 2 of the New Edition of the Ordinances Ordinance 1911. Legislation providing for the appointment of a law Commissioner has remained on the statute book since that time, in various forms, and remains part of our law today.

The law revision ordinances have resulted in three complete sets of laws – in 1915, 1950, and 1993. The 1993 version was a loose leaf version, regularly updated until 2005, when the Law Commissioner retired. Whilst the laws of the Falkland Island have continued to move on, the reference volumes did not. In 2006, the laws of the Falkland Island were put onto a CD Rom, which is updated every 6 – 12 months. Unfortunately, concerns about data content and quality have undermined its reliability as a definitive point of reference, so the CD has never been published. The only true point of reference for the reliable record of the current law is though reference in the official Falkland Islands' Gazette.

In 2015, a long planned exercise to put our laws online will begin. If the act of capturing the data for an entire body of law in electronic form was not daunting enough, a process of validation and consolidation will also be included in this project. Unlike the Islands' previous law revision projects it is hoped that the current project will form a basis that can be continually updated and available online to anyone who wishes to access it.

The Office of Law Commissioner

The 1911 Ordinance created the post of commissioner with responsibility to prepare "a new and revised editions of the ordinances of the Colony".

A further Revised Edition of the Laws Ordinance (of 6 December 1943), section 3, empowered the creation of a law commissioner "... who shall prepare a revised edition of the of the laws of the Colony and the Dependencies on such date as the Governor may fix by notification in the Gazette."

The current Revised Edition of the Laws Ordinance came into force on 26 June 1991 and was amended in 1998 and 2006.

Law Commissioners of the Falkland Islands

Law Commissioner

The Revised Laws of the Falkland Islands

As set out above, the law revision ordinances have produced three complete sets of laws – in 1915, 1950 and 1993.

The First Revision

The 'first' Revised Edition of the Laws of the Falkland Islands (the Revised Laws of the Colony of the Falkland Islands) was published in 1915. It contained the laws up to 31st December 1913 and complied by Frederic George Thomas CMG, Barrister of Inner Temple. It was produced under the authority of the New Edition of the Ordinances Ordinance 1911. A hand written note in the Governor's copy of this volume records that it was approved by the Legislative Council at a meeting held on 29th November 1915.

The single volume of just 463 pages included the laws not only of the Falkland Islands but also its then dependencies; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic territories.

This first revised volume shows that between 1853 and 1913 Falkland Island and it dependences passed only a small number of Ordinances each year – usually no more than 10 or 11 ( 14 in 1882 and 15 in 1889 being the peak years in law making.)

The Second Revision

The second Revised Edition of the Laws of the Falkland Islands (the Revised Laws of the Colony of the Falkland Islands and its Dependencies) was published in 1951. This edition was in two volumes (Volume I – Ordinances – 728 pages, and Volume II – Secondary Legislation - 372 pages). This edition was prepared by RWS Winter, a solicitor, and Sir Henry Webb Kt, KC. It sets out the law as at 31st December 1950.

The Third Revision- Loose leaf volumes

Over 60 years passed before the next attempt to provide a new 'revised laws' reference version. Dr Allan Milner and the team at Law Reports International, Oxford, produced a seven volume loose leaf reference set in 1993 and the set was kept partially up to date until 2005. The volumes went further than previous works as it sought to include "...every enactment applicable to the Islands – local principal and subsidiary legislation, UK enactments applicable by their own terms, by Orders in Council, or by direct or indirect adoption, and a small number of additional International Treaty Obligations". The seven volume set is divided into the 74 titles which present the laws in relation to their subject matter.

Updates for certain titles of the loose leaf volumes were issued in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

The Fourth Revision – CD ROM version

In late 2006 some of the laws were captured on a CD ROM, which was intended to take over from the loose leaf volumes as a definitive reference source. Unfortunately, the instructions given for its creation were not complete; significantly omitting any update to the UK laws applicable in the Islands. Since its creation a number of errors have also been found on the disk. For these reasons, it has never been possible to be used for anything other than a limited, and unauthoritative, electronic guide. Despite the problems with the disk it has been updated regularly since it was first produced and errors have been eliminated as they have been brought to light.

The Current Project

... and so we begin again... The Falkland Islands law revision project has been approved by the Falkland Islands' Executive Council. Rosalind Cheek has been selected to be the next Falkland Islands Law Commissioner. Information on progress about the project can be found on the Revised Laws Project page.