August 6, 2004

The laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

by Ada Johnson

Understanding the law is not always an easy task for the layman. The legalese/legal jargon discourages easy reading. I invite you to go through this series of articles as I explore the laws, legal procedures and institutions with you.{{more}}
The laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines include statute acts and subsidiary legislation. The laws were revised in 1990. They are contained in eight volumes (the blue books) of which there are 384 chapters.
The constitution is given in chapter two of the 1990 edition. It is the supreme law of our land, the source of all other laws. Any law or act of parliament that is inconsistent with the constitution is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency. The constitution provides for the machinery of Government and for the fundamental rights and freedom of the individual.
Section 37 of the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines gives Parliament, that is, the House of Assembly, the powers to make laws for peace, order and good government. Authorization is also given for the enactment of laws (statute acts) in Chapter 11 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Our laws do not end with the 1990 edition. Parliament continues to amend, repeal and enact new laws. An act is initiated as a bill and is debated and voted on by the members of parliament. Before it comes into effect it must receive the assent of the Governor General and be published in the Government Gazette. Section 4 of Chapter 11 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines requires the Clerk of the House of Assembly to provide a collection of all acts that are completed each year to be published in a single volume for general knowledge.
Parliament may confer power on any person or group to make subsidiary legislation. Such legislation is cited as statutory regulations/rules and orders (SR&O) and are given in booklet form at the end of an act in the blue book volumes
Like acts, Statutory Rules and Orders must be published in the Government Gazette before they could become effective. New regulations/rules and orders are compiled and published as a single volume each year.
Laws are enacted to regulate the behaviour of people in their interaction with one another and with institutions. For the proper functioning of society laws must be obeyed. To ensure obedience, sanctions and penalties are included. In fact the laws of the land would be ineffective without these provisions.