The new 2007 Fiji Law Reports provide access to legal precedents, supporting a higher level of professionalism in the justice sector, an improvement in the provision of justice services, and an improvement in efficiency. The publication of the Fiji Law Reports from 2004 onwards are being supported, as part of the Fiji Access to Justice Project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji. On 27 June 2017, the launch of the first of these Reports took place at the Government Buildings of Fiji in Suva.
The Fiji Annual Law Reports are utilized by a wide range of stakeholders that contribute to and support access to justice, such as the Judiciary, legal practitioners and professionals, government policymakers, researchers, academia and students. They provide a record of some of the key cases decided in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Fiji in any given year. The cases included in these reports are selected by the Judicial Department.
The invitees to the launch were warmly welcomed by the Honourable Mr. Justice Suresh Chandra who provided a background to the publication of the Reports by the Judicial Department and noted, “Since the Access to Justice Project …we have been able to accelerate this process and we are fortunate enough to get them to help us with the publication of the Law Reports and this as a result, Fiji Law Reports 2007, are being launched today.”
Mr. Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation, the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, also addressed the guests and commented, “The Fiji Access to Justice Project is about promoting democratic governance, rule of law [and] respect for human rights, which are core values of the European Union, and the publication of the Law Reports is one such event in promoting all these values.”
The Fiji Access to Justice Project is committed to producing the Fiji Annual Law Reports from 2004 onwards. The process for production of the Law Reports involves the selection of pertinent cases by the Judicial Department; the production of headnotes, indexes, formatting and setting for publication by the legal research and publishing company LexisNexis Australia (contracted by UNDP); comprehensive checking; and then printing and distribution to relevant stakeholders. It is also envisaged that future law reports will be made available electronically.
The Honourable Chief Justice, Mr. Anthony Gates noted the significance of the launch and expressed pride in the Reports as their standard is the “same standard as the Commonwealth Law Reports and very professionally produced”. The Honourable Chief Justice further remarked that the progress achieved could not have been done “without the partnership of the EU and UNDP” which was an “ideal combination of local input and the overseas community helping us to get where we need to be”.
The guests were also addressed by Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, Country Director and Head of Pacific Regional Policy and Programme, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, who also commented on the significance of the reports in that they “are not merely of use today, but will be of use and reference to many future generations both here and indeed in other common law jurisdictions”.
Mr. Burkhanov added, “UNDP is proud to be involved in the production of the Law Reports given the great potential of this undertaking to support an even higher level of professionalism in the justice sector. The Reports allow for greater transparency in decision-making and the development of legal principles, resulting in a more effective and efficient justice for all”.
The Fiji Annual Law Reports contribute to access to justice in their distribution to a wide range of stakeholders including the Judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Legal Aid Commission, the Fiji Police Force, legal practitioners, government policy makers and academia.
The Fiji Access to Justice Project supports access to justice for impoverished and vulnerable groups by empowering people to access legal rights and services through the relevant key justice institutions, in conjunction with strengthening those key justice institutions to undertake improved service delivery. The Fiji Access to Justice Project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
The Fiji Government has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals which highlights the importance of access to justice as an enabler for development and an outcome of development in its own right. At Goal 16, there is commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The Fiji Access to Justice Project supports the achievement of these goals.
Ria Sen, Reporting and Communications Specialist, Access to Justice Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, tel: +679 322 7577; email: firstname.lastname@example.org