CAPTION: PacLII Board Members at the first meeting. (left-right): Mr Ross Ray QC, Chairman, South Pacific Lawyers Association; Mr John Davidson, Minister/Counselor, AusAID; Mr Neroni Tuiloma Slade, Secretary General of PIFS (Chair); Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President, USP; Ms Karen Collier, Coordinator, Pacific Law Library Twinning Programme; Ms Lenore Hamilton, Director PacLII (Secretary to Board); Mr Jaindra Karan, Director Development, Marketing, Communications & Alumni, USP; Professor Andrew Mowbray, Director AustLII; and Professor Eric Colvin, Head of School of Law; USP.
The Pacific Legal Information Institute (PacLII), an initiative of the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Law which started in 1998 was granted funding of AUD 1.8m by the AusAID for another three years beginning July 2012 to June 2015.
PacLII collects and publishes legal materials from 20 Pacific Island Countries on its website, www.paclii.org. The materials mainly consists primary materials such as court decisions and legislation but also includes decisions of various tribunals and panels or secondary information such as court rules or bench books. It also has a Pacific Islands Treaty Database.
PacLII also has important advocacy and training roles. It conducts training sessions with students, legal professionals, and others, assisting them in not only learning how to access the internet but how to use the SINO search engine to refine their legal searches and maximize their results. It also works closely with law agencies in the different jurisdictions to improve the flow of legal information for free online publication.
A new Advisory Board chaired by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade had its first meeting at the Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 4 February 2013.
The main agenda for this Board meeting was to (a) receive an update on PacLII activities from July to December 2012; (b) discuss and approve PacLII’s work plan for 2013; and (c) deliberate on future work plan (2014 to 2015).
In his introductory remarks, USP Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra welcomed the Chair and the members of the Board for readily accepting the invitation to serve on the PacLII Board.
Professor Chandra thanked the Secretary General for accepting the Chair’s role and said that “the Chair brings great wisdom and regional and international experience. Under his leadership, we all can take comfort of being guided towards the implementation of the project which is crucial to the region as it is an essential part of law and justice. I firmly believe that under his leadership, PacLII will be steered successfully in the desired direction.”
Professor Chandra also acknowledged the presence of Mr John Davidson, Minister/Counselor, AusAID, based in Suva and expressed the University’s deep appreciation of the strong support of AusAID for this project and many other key initiatives of the University. The current project operates under a three year funding support and previously the project was also funded by AusAID. He also acknowledged the funding that was provided to the project by New Zealand.
“I sincerely thank the Government of Australia for its tremendous support to PacLII and believe that we will continue the relationship beyond the period of the current funding agreement,” Professor Chandra added.
He thanked Mr John Davidson, Minister/Counselor, AusAID for his support and acceptance to be a member of the Board.
On assuming the Chair, Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade thanked the Vice Chancellor for the invitation to serve as the Chair of the Board and also for his introduction.
“I am honored to be in the position of the Chair of the Board. This project is an important undertaking by the University and I acknowledge the Vice Chancellor’s leadership of the University. I wish to also convey the Board’s and my own appreciation to the Government of Australia for the financial assistance to a very worthy project,” he said.
The Chair welcomed all the members and said that the Board has a very distinguished membership and that our aim should be to guide the project with sound advice and direction so that it fully meets its objectives.
He further said that “PacLII has become a vital service to many in the region and it is also accessed by the international community. Monitoring the performance and having an oversight on PacLII are the key roles of the Board. It is expected to ensure that PacLII is operating in the best interest and that it continues to provide adequate support to, as part of the overall support to the law and justice sector of the region”.
Mr Davidson said that “Australia was very pleased to be associated with this project and its overall assistance to USP as it sees the project as an important and worthwhile regional public good, which is the basis of Australia’s regional assistance. Australia sees USP as a good example, which delivers high quality services to the region within the notion of public good”.
Mr Davidson further added that Australia is pleased that this project is part of USP and that Australia has increased its assistance to USP for 2013 and will be working towards concluding a new partnership agreement for assistance this year.
At its first meeting the Board noted with appreciation the progress PacLII has made in the first six months of the current three-year period. These included progress in the following five key result areas:
• Expanded and improved legal material collection;
• Improved accessibility of materials;
• Strengthened communications and partnership with member jurisdictions and other LIIs;
• Improved project management; and
• A more financially sustainable PacLII.
The Board further approved in principle the work plan for 2013, which will be further improved and deliberated out of session within a month. The Board also had discussion on the future work plan and its focus. At its next meeting which is scheduled for the last quarter of this year, the Board agreed to look at the work plan for 2014 and 2015 while assessing the progress of work in 2013 against the work plan.
The PacLII Board comprises Mr. Neroni Tuiloma Slade, Secretary General of PIFS (Chair); Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President, USP; Mr. John Davidson, Minister /Counselor, AusAID; Prof Andrew Mowbray, Director AustLII; Dr. Donna Buckingham, Director NZLII; Ms. Karen Collier, Coordinator, Pacific Law Library Twinning Programme; Dr. Lawrence Kalinoe, Chairman, Pacific Islands Law Officers Network and Mr. Ross Ray QC, Chairman, South Pacific Lawyers Association.