The online library, which is today available at the web address laws.gov.tt, was formally launched yesterday at a function hosted by the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The digital legislative library was the brainchild of the Minister of Legal Affairs Prakash Ramadhar and was compiled by a small team at the Law Revision Commission, chaired by Laraine Lutchmedial.
“This digital library will revolutionise the way legislation is accessed in Trinidad and Tobago,” Lutchmedial said at the event at the Radisson Hotel, Wrightson Road, Portof- Spain. “It is a massive online collection aimed at preserving the legislative history of Trinidad and Tobago by attempting to provide not only the statutes as originally enacted, but to also make available all subsequent consolidations so that one can determine exactly what the law is at varying times.” She said the project began in 2011 and cost just under $3 million.
Of the task of scanning all the laws - many of which are not contained in the official volumes of revised laws which omit repealed acts, acts of limited interest and other subsidiary items - Lutchmedial said the task was enormous.
“It involves the back-capturing, digitising, and archiving of literally thousands of acts, ordinances and legal notices dating as far back as 1838,” the chairman said. “The most daunting challenge the Commission faced was the sheer size of the exercise. The project was carried out in stages which included the dismantling of the volumes, the scanning of more than 500,000 pages, the stripping and rebounding of the books.
This was a painstaking exercise.” All of the work was done by members of the Law Revision Commission who, according to the chairman, went outside of the traditional remit of that body to embrace the digitisation project and to act as unpaid experts in addition to their normal law revision duties.