PacLII Summit 2023
21 September 2023
Photo Credit: Brej Pacific General Distribution Ltd
On 5 September 2023, Law Council President, Luke Murphy, attended the PacLII Regional Stakeholder Summit on Maintaining and Enhancing Free Access to Law in the Pacific Region held in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) is the principal source of legal information for 20 Pacific Island jurisdictions and is relied upon by the legal profession, the judiciary, researchers and the broader community across the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. The PacLII website is an essential piece of legal infrastructure, particularly for jurisdictions with limited centralisation of legislation and case law and other legal materials. PacLII is hosted within the University of the South Pacific and is operated in partnership with the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).
The Law Council of Australia has engaged closely with PacLII and AustLII, including in liaison with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Attorney-General’s Department, to secure critical gap funding to sustain PacLII’s operations for a period of 12 months. In addition, the Law Council worked closely with AustLII and PacLII in the organisation of the PacLII Summit to discuss options to ensure PacLII’s future sustainable operation, governance and financing.
The PacLII Summit was made possible as part of the critical gap funding provided by DFAT to PacLII for the 2023-2024 financial year.
The Summit brought together representatives of governments, courts, non-government organisations, law societies and others from eleven Pacific Island jurisdictions, Australia and New Zealand, and facilitated robust discussion on appropriate governance models, possible funding sources and models to build PacLII’s financial sustainability and resilience.
Summit attendees endorsed a Declaration, which among other things, urged all countries, chief justices, law societies and legal practitioners in the region to support PacLII, and to give effect to their unanimous support for the maintenance and further development of PacLII by:
- Formally supporting the funding application to DFAT for core funding and approaches to other possible funding sources to achieve sustainability; and
- Raising with governments and relevant regional organisations – including the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Judicial Council, the Pacific Islands Law Officers Network (PILON) and the South Pacific Lawyers’ Association (SPLA) – the significance of PacLII as a cornerstone of regional efforts in the law and justice sector.
The Law Council will continue to work with PacLII and AustLII, and other law and justice stakeholders in the region to give effect to the Vanuatu Declaration and build a secure and sustainable foundation for PacLII’s future operation.