Advancing the rule of law for Southeast Asian communities

By LexisNexis

Legal systems share many features, despite their diversity. They also share a need to be made accessible in a local context in Southeast Asia, according to global provider of legal information and analytics LexisNexis.

Put simply, the rule of law means that no one is above the law. Research by the World Justice Project shows that countries with stronger rule of law creates an environment that results in higher economic growth, improved health outcomes and more education.

A vital element of upholding the rule of law and facilitating access to justice is transparency of laws to all members of society. This often begins with the proper consolidation, translation and timely publication of laws, as effective systems and infrastructure support and ease the proper administration of justice on the part of governments and civil society.

Gaythri Raman, Managing Director of LexisNexis Southeast Asia, says that localising legal technology is a vital aspect of the innovation that helps deliver accessible justice. She says leveraging existing technology from other business units, and building products and services from the ground up, requires a keen awareness of the practice of law, and the way it is evolving in tandem with technology in Southeast Asia.

Hannah Lim, Head of Rule of Law and Emerging Markets at LexisNexis Southeast Asia, says there is no “one size fits all” approach, and developing strong relationships with local legal professionals is the first step in every project. Lim says LexisNexis consults and collaborates with customers in government, legal, corporate and academic institutions in more than 175 countries, leveraging a wealth of expertise, data and technology to create meaningful, sustainable change in local, regional and global projects to enhance key elements of the rule of law.

Plain language content for the Maldives

Lim says LexisNexis’s core focuses on creating and disseminating legal content can be easily leveraged to help develop technology through which laws can be researched, catalogued, updated, translated and disseminated. She says that is particularly so in countries where laws are not easily accessible, such as the Maldives.

This initiative was aimed at creating plain-language renderings of local legislation and other legal content into English and Dhivehi, the official language of the Maldives, with a particular focus on legislation pertaining to the protection of women and children, including provisions relating to domestic violence. The question-and-answer format in which the content was laid out not only made it easier for laypersons to peruse, but also police, prosecutors, and other government officials, as the most common legal issues and the accompanying solution were much easier to locate, allowing for quicker resolutions.

Capacity building for the Indonesian defence bar

In this age of rapid digital transformation, supporting lawyers and creating opportunities for continuing professional development and higher education is another element of advancing the rule of law that LexisNexis Southeast Asia engages in. In a recent collaboration with the International Legal Foundation, the team interviewed the legal faculty at Universitas Indonesia and Universitas Atma Jaya to better understand the mechanics of their Legal Aid clinic, to identify opportunities to support young lawyers in providing meaningful defence services.

A complete report was collated, detailing the basic legal history of Indonesia, various sources of laws within the country, and a detailed list of the various legal aid institutions, courts and government bodies. This data was then used to develop a research workshop, delivered virtually due to the pandemic, tailored purely for Indonesian lawyers, taking into account the many unique facets of the local legal system and population.

Advancing the rule of law around the world is a concept that unifies LexisNexis across the globe, says Raman, and this mission is passionately supported by its people. With publishing laws and enabling access to justice through innovative, localised legal solutions, LexisNexis prides itself on working with local governments and civil society to design specially crafted tools that provide unsurpassable legal insights.