Fostering a more Conducive Environment for Economic Development though Legal Education within and across Jurisdictional Borders

Paper presented at the 2013 CLEA Conference in Durban

Christopher Malcolm
Attorney-General of the British Virgin Islands

The legal framework in any jurisdiction is the most important underlying mechanism for economic growth and development. Accordingly, while approaches may differ, the fulcrum of any system for legal education should properly emphasise the critical link between law and development and should in its curriculum include programmes that are appropriately designed and presented with this in mind. It is also to be recalled that the practice of law in all its facets is about dispute settlement at one level or another. As such, any dialogue in this area will necessarily favour an examination of dispute settlement mechanisms. Accordingly, this presentation will explore the role, function, and range of dispute settlement mechanisms and how they may be leveraged to best secure economic growth and development. It is important to recognise here, contrary to the perception of many persons, that available mechanisms for dispute settlement are simply back-end devices but are instead possible end-to-end devices, which should be included as critical product and service design features for businesses. Such mechanism should also be viewed, and through legal education presented, as having capacity to promote best practice and ongoing business efficiency. Legal education must therefore then challenge students to consider the implications of a ‘new’ leveraging for economic development and stability paradigm, having especial regard for what still appears to be an urgent need for more cooperative approaches to doing business in this age of post, if not continuing, economic turmoil. In the final analysis, this presentation will provoke a re-evaluation of what could now be considered an unduly restricted current approach to legal education, certainly in the Commonwealth Caribbean, and will include recommendations for change.

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