Importance of Legislative Drafting
In the modern state, much social and institutional change has to be made through written law. This is both a democratic expectation and a practical necessity, confirmed by the Constitution, particularly the Fundamental Freedoms provisions enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. We can no longer look to courts or to custom to adjust the system to the fast changing demands made upon it.
Legislation today is central to the process of change, for example, in a move from one form of economic system to another or from one form of government to another such as the Electoral Act 2004. It is the vehicle by which countries respond to the increasing demands that arise from membership of the international order, as for example, the changes introduced through the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and international agreements on environmental protection.
Legislation, and the institutions created under it, are the principal instruments through which planned development is undertaken. Development calls for new legal institutions; these must be appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the particular society. This process is undoubtedly affected by the quality of the instruments and by the speed with which they are drawn up and put into effect. Success may be dependent upon:
- the quality of input from persons with specialist legal skills and knowledge;
- the excellence of the prior research into the legal and practical implications of the policy options;
- the satisfactory integration of the new legislative scheme with the overall legal system.
The task of legislation is to provide in a constantly changing environment a framework for settled legal relationships, to reduce the potential for conflict, as well as to establish effective machinery for resolving the disputes that inevitably arise. Success rests in part upon the quality of the legislation. That in turn depends upon the competence, skills and expertise of those responsible for its preparation.
Yet many States are handicapped in making the legal changes they require by their lack of the personnel and procedures needed to produce innovative legislation. Commonwealth countries, especially Nigeria, repeatedly report the scarcity of persons with skills in legislative drafting.