Establishment

1.1 ESTABLISHMENT

The Law Commission (the Commission) is established under section 133 of the Constitution. Its enabling statute, the Law Commission Act (Cap. 3:09) came into force in July, 1998.

1.1.1 FUNCTIONS

The functions of the Commission are:

1.1.1.1 Under the Constitution

Section 135 of the Constitution provides that the Law Commission shall have powers to:

(a)    review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi and their conformity with the Constitution and applicable international laws;

(b)   review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the Constitution;

(c)    review any submissions from any person or body regarding the laws of Malawi or the Constitution; and

(d)   report its findings and recommendations to Parliament through the Minister of Justice.



1.1.1.2 Under the Law Commission Act

Section 6 of the Law Commission Act provides that the function of the Law Commission in addition to the Constitutional functions shall be:

(a) to review the laws of Malawi with a view to the systematic development and reform of the law, including, in particular:

(i) the modernization of the laws by bringing them into accord with current national and international conditions and norms;

(ii) the elimination from the laws of any defects, whether of a procedural, substantive or policy nature;

(iii) the simplification of the laws;

(iv) the recommendation of new or more effective methods and procedures for the administration of the laws;

(b) to make recommendations for the fusion or harmonization of customary law with other laws of Malawi;

(c) to make recommendations for the codification of any branch of the law or of any customary law; and

(d) to promote awareness of the laws and the Constitution by the public and by departments of the Government and other authorities or bodies.

Goal, Objectives, Vision

1.2 GOAL

The Commission’s Goal is:

to contribute to the promotion of rule of law and good governance.

1.3 OBJECTIVES

The Commission's Objectives are:

(a) to review and make effective recommendations regarding the Constitution and laws of Malawi; and

(b) to promote public awareness of laws of Malawi and the Constitution.

1.4 VISION

The Commission's Vision is:

to become an expert provider of advisory services on law development, reform and status of the law in Malawi and beyond.

Mission Statement, Values

1.5 MISSION STATEMENT

The Commission's Mission is:

to provide expert advice to Government on law development and reform.

1.6 VALUES

The Commission's Values are:

independence: in the performance or exercise of its functions, duties and powers.

professionalism: in the conduct of its staff and the carrying out its mandate.

Credibility: with all organs of the State, development partners and the general public.

responsiveness: acting promptly to the needs established by its stakeholders and the public for law reform and civic education.

accountability: in the carrying out its mandate and use of resources.

How We Operate

1.7 HOW DOES THE LAW COMMISSION OPERATE?

In pursuance of its powers and functions under the Constitution and the Law Commission Act, the Law Commission:

(a) prepares its work programme annually in order of priority and publishes it in the ‘Gazette’;

(b) invites the Attorney General or any Minister to suggest any matter for inclusion in its work programme;

(c) conducts a public inquiry into any matter relating to law reform or development from any person or body;

(d) consults with concerned parties or the public for purposes of considering matters for law reform or development;

(e) prepares and publish its reports and the necessary draft legislation;

(f) prepares and publishes law reports in collaboration with the judiciary; and

(g) provides, when called upon to do so, legal advice to the public on the state of the law in Malawi and as regards international instruments to which Malawi is a party.

1.8 HOW DOES THE LAW COMMISSION FURTHER ITS FUNCTIONS?

The Law Commission has, among other things, power to:

(a) sponsor, support or organise conferences, seminars, workshops and meetings for the promotion of its functions;

(b) determine its own procedures for carrying out consultations and for the general conduct of its work; and

(c) receive donations of funds, materials and technical assistance for the furtherance of its work.

Who We Work With

1.9 WHO DOES THE LAW COMMISSION WORK WITH?

The Law Commission’s clientele includes:

(a) Government Ministries and Statutory Bodies;

(b) Parliament;

(c) Judiciary;

(d) Members of various Law Commissions;

(e) Non Governmental Organizations;

(f) Local, Regional & International Donor Funding Agencies that assist the Law Commission in realising its work plans and objectives;

(g) Private Sector;

(h) Constitutional Bodies; and

(i) The people of Malawi.

Structural Setup

1.10 STRUCTURAL SET UP

Secretariat

The Secretariat comprises a permanent Law Commissioner who is the head of the institution and other professional, technical and administrative staff subordinate to the Law Commissioner. The Law Commissioner is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission for a renewable term of five years.

Since its inception, the Commission has been served by three Law Commissioners. The first Law Commissioner was Justice Elton Mawina Singini, SC who served as Law Commissioner for ten years from June, 1996 to June, 2006. He was replaced by Mr. Anthony Kamanga, SC who served as Law Commissioner until July, 2007. On 23rd June, 2008, Mrs. Gertrude Lynn Hiwa, SC was appointed Law Commissioner. All Law Commissioners have prior to their appointments served extensively at the Ministry of Justice and the last two were Chief Parliamentary Draftspersons immediately before their appointments.

The Commission has two main departments: the Law Reform Division and the Corporate Services Division. The core business of the institution is law reform which, under the Law Reform Division, involves legal research, law development, law review, legislative drafting and civic education. The Corporate Services Division provides support services in human resource management and logistics.