The Need For The Statute Law Act

At the end of April, President Ruto signed into law the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2024. So what exactly is it?

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act is a legislative tool used to make minor, non-controversial amendments to various existing laws within a single document.

This approach is usually used to streamline the legislative process and to address multiple issues efficiently without the need for separate, individual bills for each amendment. The following are the key reasons why doing things this way is useful.

  • Efficiency: Combining various amendments into one document saves time and resources. Legislators can address multiple minor changes in one legislative session rather than debating each amendment separately.
  • Minor and Non Controversial Changes: The amendments included in such acts are typically minor corrections, updates or clarifications that do not warrant extensive debate or controversy. This can include fixing typographical errors, updating outdated terms, or aligning laws with current practices.
  • Administrative Convenience: It simplifies the process for administrative and judicial bodies that must implement and comply with the laws. A single amendment act can update numerous statutes simultaneously, reducing the complexity of tracking multiple legislative changes.
  • Legal Uniformity: This method ensures consistency and coherence across different statutes. For example, if multiple laws require a similar update, such as a change in terminology or administrative procedures, it is more coherent to address them together in one comprehensive amendment act.
  • Focus on Broad Legislative Priorities: By handling minor amendments collectively, legislators can focus their attention on more substantial and potentially contentious bills that would require detailed discussion and deliberation.

The process of deciding which laws appear in a Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act typically involves several steps and stakeholders.

  • Government Ministries and Agencies:  Individual government ministries and agencies identify necessary minor amendments within their respective jurisdictions. These bodies would have the best understanding of the operational challenges and legal adjustments required in their areas of responsibility.
  • Attorney General’s Office: The Office of the Attorney General usually plays a central role in coordinating and drafting the miscellaneous amendments. The AG’s office gathers proposals from different ministries and agencies, and then it ensures that they are legally sound and appropriate for inclusion in the omnibus bill.
  • Cabinet Approval: The proposed amendments are typically reviewed and approved by the cabinet before they are presented to the lawmakers. This step ensures that all the proposed changes align with the government’s overall policy and legislative agenda.
  • Legislative Committees: Parliamentary committees review the draft amendments. These committees may include legal affairs committees or other relevant committees depending on the nature of the amendments. The committees provide oversight, ensuring that the amendments are appropriate and that they do not have unintended consequences.

So the decision making process for the laws to be included in such an Act involves multiple layers of government review and approval, starting from individual ministries and agencies, moving through the Attorney General’s office, receiving Cabinet approval and undergoing parliamentary committee scrutiny.

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act is usually introduced annually. The regularity of these acts helps keep the legislative framework current and functional without the need for constant separate bills for minor changes.

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