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Clarity sought on legal, customary ownership of resource

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 28, 2009) - The Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission (LRC) will today launch its consultation paper for an enquiry into the law and custom that applies to land below high water and low water mark.

The launch of the consultation paper marks the beginning of public consultation by the LRC for this enquiry.

The consultation paper, to be launched by the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Laurie Chan, gives information about the current written law (legislation) that applies to this area of land and identifies issues that need to be considered during the enquiry.

The paper also gives information about the law of neighboring countries over this area of land, and asks questions about how the law should be changed in Solomon Islands.

The land below high and low water mark is the beaches, foreshores, reefs and seabed.

The current law of Solomon Islands recognizes that this area of land can be customary land if customary ownership, use or occupation existed prior to 1st January 1969.

However the written law, in the Land and Titles Act, that applies to this area of land is not clear.

During consultation the LRC will need to look at customary ownership and rights over the land below high water and low water mark.

It will also consider whether the law should say anything about how decisions about made about development over this area of land, and public use and access to this area of land.

The aim of the consultation paper is to stimulate views and submissions that will help the LRC to develop recommendations for changes to the current law on land below high and low water mark.

The LRC is keen to hear from landowners, land users and members of the public.

At the end of its enquiry the LRC will report to the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs about any reform or change to the law necessary to reflect the current needs, thinking and practices of the people of Solomon Islands.

The Law Reform Commission through its legal staff will consult for this enquiry, and hopes to engage with as many people as possible during its consultation.

Consultation will be held throughout 2010 and will include workshops and meetings with special interest groups, as well as meetings in the Provinces. Comments, views or submissions may be sent to the LRC by post, email, fax or given at consultation meetings.

The consultation paper can be obtained by contacting the LRC on telephone 38773.

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