Legislative Drafting (Techniques and Practice) Training Course Report
While acting upon its Resolution on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Law, signed on 31st August 2013, the School of Law was pleased to host another one day training course on Legislative Drafting (Techniques and Practice) by Trainer Barrister Ronan Cormacain on 28th November 2015 at Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore.
The School of Law provides formal legal education to Pakistani students in compliance with international standards as well as training courses and workshops for practicing lawyers as part of its CPD program. We believe that CPD is a very crucial aspect that is missing from the legal education and practice in Pakistan and it is hoped that our efforts in creating awareness about it would bring this international trend home, thereby allowing a Pakistani lawyer the level playing field he needs to practice law in the globalised world of today.
The training course on Legislative Drafting was expressly designed to train delegates in the skill of drafting legislation, thus accomplishing a very important role in the delivery of legal education for a vital area of governance.
Profile of the Trainer:
Barrister Ronan Cormacain
A qualified Barrister, Ronan Cormacain has been a legislative drafter for 14 years. He has drafted and advised on legislation on a wide range of subjects for a variety of clients. These include governments, backbenchers, law commissions, charities and commercial organisations. He has worked in the following jurisdictions: Northern Ireland, Wales, England, the Falkland Islands, the Channel Islands and Azerbaijan.
He has Masters Degrees (both at Distinction level) from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of London. He is a guest lecturer at the University of London, lecturing on the LLM in Advanced Legislative Studies and the Summer Course in Legislative Drafting. He also runs workshops for drafters and civil servants on legislation and drafting. He has published several articles on the field of legislation and legislative drafting, most recently in Statute Law Review, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, The Loophole, Theory and Practice of Legislation, European Journal of Law Reform, and the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues.
He is working on his PhD on Legislative Drafting and The Rule of Law and is the Director at the Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic, based at the University of London. The Clinic provides drafting advice to those in need of it, as well as training in legislative drafting to drafters from around the world.
The one day training course on Legislative Drafting (Techniques and Practice) was hosted by the School of Law on 28th November 2015 at Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore.
The training course was opened by Ms. Sara Gul Abbasi, Head of Administration at School of Law, who elaborated that School of Law has conducted several successful training courses and workshops as part of its CPD program including a one day training course on International Law and Human Rights in collaboration with University of East London, a two day Workshop on Islamic Finance Training for Lawyers in association with Franco American Association of Islamic Finance (FAAIF), and a full day training on International Commercial Arbitration just to name a few. She further commented that this course on Legislative Drafting is a part of that series and it is being hosted in furtherance of School of Law’s commitment to strengthen the concept of CPD in Pakistan. Ms. Sara then invited Mr. Ronan Cormacain to start off the session.
The training course consisted of four sessions:
- Session 1 – Introduction to Legislation and Legislative Drafting
- Session 2 – Quality in Legislation
- Session 3 – Plain Language Drafting
- Session 4 – Gender Neutral Drafting
Three learning methods were used during the training course. Firstly, traditional didactic lectures. Secondly, less formal seminars with participation sought from learners. Thirdly, practical drafting exercises carried out by the learners.
After briefly introducing himself, Mr. Ronan started off with first session of the training course i.e. Legislation and Legislative Drafting. He briefed that legislation is the law made by legislature, as opposed to the common law and Sharia law. He then threw light on various types of legislation i.e. primary legislation, secondary legislation etc. Part of the session included elaboration on the instrumental and functional aspect of the law. Mr. Ronan then proceeded on to the next part of the session, where he gave a brief introduction about legislative drafting. He expounded that legislative drafting is a process of turning policy into legislation. He then illustrated on five stages of legislative drafting according to Thornton. These were as follows:
- Understand the policy proposal
- Analyse the proposal
- Design of the legislation
- Composition and development
- Scrutiny and testing
Legislative drafting whether is an art or science was later discussed by the trainer to boost the imagination of the participating delegates. Mr. Ronan then concluded the session by identifying the role of a drafter as a servant, master and a legislative counsel.
Session 2 of this informative course was initiated by Mr. Ronan by inviting the delegates to share their opinion about what according to them are salient features of a good quality legislation. There was active participation by the delegates, some of who highlighted that a good quality legislation should be coherent, concise, clear of any loopholes, should have a general application and should have simple and clear wordings. Mr. Ronan was impressed with the knowledge of the delegates and went on to demonstrate the hierarchy of principles for determining the quality of legislation. They were enumerated as below:
- Effective & Constitutional
- Clarity, Precision & Unambiguous
- Brevity, Plain Language, Gender Neutral, Grammatical & Presentational
Mr. Ronan then analysed each principle in detail while enunciating through Pakistani as well as international examples. He concluded by expressing that what is most important is to make one’s draft legally effective, keeping in view the target audience.
The third session evolved around Plain Language Drafting techniques. The trainer began the session by construing what plain language drafting is. He further explained eloquently the techniques of plain language drafting which included avoidance of jargon, foreign words, redundant synonyms, archaic words, outdated expressions, passive voice, weak verbs and provisos. Mr. Ronan also clarified that in plain language drafting, the drafter should make use of quotidian and short words, short sentences, active voice, possessive forms, parallel sentences and numbered lists. After this session, the delegates undertook plain language drafting exercises which challenged them to redraft various legislations using plain language principles. Each group was given a different exercise and Mr. Ronan spent time with each group separately to discuss the solutions of the respective exercises. This immensely helped the delegates to understand the practicalities of drafting a legislation.
The last session was about Gender Neutral Drafting techniques. Mr. Ronan explained the notion that a legislation is gender neutral if it applies equally, in form and in substance, to all genders. He expressed that one reason why Pakistan should develop gender neutral legislation is the presence of Article 25 in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which states as follows:
‘(1) All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.’
The trainer then expounded on various techniques that could be used to legislate gender neutrally. This session was also followed by gender neutral drafting exercises to boost delegates’ participation and was concluded with Mr. Ronan’s expression that the only way forward for drafters in jurisdictions worldwide should be to develop gender neutral drafting techniques.
The last part of the training course included a short talk by Mr. Khashih-ur-Rehman, Additional Draftsman and Joint Secretary for Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights in Pakistan. He agreed with Mr. Ronan that gender neutral drafting is the need of the hour for all jurisdictions. He also expressed that only plain language drafting techniques should be used by the drafters in Pakistan to avoid complexities in the interpretation of statutes. He further detailed his experiences of working as a draftsman in the Federal Ministry of Law. He lastly urged the participants to pay extra heed on this subject as legislative drafters are a rare species, not just in Pakistan but also around the world.
The training course was then concluded by Mr. Ronan by giving a brief summary of all sessions. In the end, Mr. Ronan thanked Chairman, Mr. Ehsan Chughtai and Head of Administration Ms. Sara Gul Abbasi of School of Law for inviting him and organizing the training course. The participating delegates were handed all course materials and essential readings. All the delegates will be awarded a certificate of participation signed by Mr. Ronan Cormacain. The team School of Law is immensely proud to carry on with its tradition of imparting CPD knowledge to the legal fraternity in Pakistan and pledges to continue its efforts in raising awareness about the same.
 H Xanthaki, Thornton’s Legislative Drafting (5th Edition, Bloomsbury 2013)
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