The Samoa Law Reform Commission has been reviewing the Family Laws of Samoa since 2018 as outdated.
This was outlined in the Commission’s annual report for the financial year 2021-2022. It was initiated in response to a recommendation from the Judiciary (during the Commission’s consultations for its Review of the Fabric of Laws of Samoa in 2017) that the family laws of Samoa were in dire need of review and updating.
The Commission carried out several preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (MJCA) as the administrator of the family laws. Following discussions, a Terms of Reference was developed by SLRC and consequently approved by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in 2018.
The six (6) family laws reviewed are as follows:
i. Infants Ordinance 1961;
ii. Marriage Ordinance 1961;
iii. Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Ordinance 1961;
iv. Maintenance and Affiliation Act 1967;
v. Family Safety Act 2013; and
vi. Family Court Act 2014.
The Commission carried out the review in close collaboration with the MJCA as the instructing Ministry and administrator of these laws and a total of thirteen (13) public consultations were carried out.
The Final Report for the Review of the Family Laws of Samoa was completed in June of this financial year and submitted to the Minister, Matamua Seumanu Vasati Sili Pulufana last year June and a month later the Final Report was submitted to Cabinet for their endorsement.
It is noted here that Cabinet by way of its Directive FK (22)30 issued instructions for the Commission to carry out further consultations with other Government agencies before the Commission reports back to Cabinet.