Consultation – Legislative Review

The Government of the British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is reviewing all of its legislation. This is to update, simplify and better fit the needs and practicalities of the Territory and its stakeholders.

All Ordinances, subject to a few exceptions, will replace earlier versions in their entirety. Ordinances will also read as gender-neutral.

The majority of the Ordinances have no major policy changes. Some have minor adjustments while those relating to criminal justice processes have been substantially redrafted to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.

The key changes for each Ordinance are summarised below. More detail can be found in the Reasons and Occasions document. All existing legislation can be found on the legislation page.  

A public consultation on the proposed new legislation is currently underway and the Government of the British Antarctic Territory are grateful for any contributions.  Comments should be sent to polarregions@fcdo.gov.uk by 30 November 2020

 

Administration of Justice Ordinance, Criminal Procedure Ordinance 2020 and Police Powers Ordinance 2020

There has always been a close connection between BAT and the Falkland Islands, particularly in relation to the administration of criminal justice issues. There are shared officials and legal connections when it comes to the administration of court cases and police functions. In revising the existing BAT legislation that deals with administration of justice, criminal procedure and police powers, changes have sought to ensure the Territory’s laws are compatible with those of the Falkland Islands as well as to reduce the amount of activity needing to take place within the Territory itself.

We have sought to ensure that the law connects as closely as possible with those that apply in England and Wales, that any new procedures and processes are compatible with the Falkland Islands Courts (Overseas Jurisdiction) Order 1989 (as amended in 2017) and that Falkland Islands police officers would be familiar with the police powers and procedures that are in place.

Changes to these three Ordinances: remove outdated references to Falkland Islands legislation; incorporate text from existing Falkland Islands legislation where appropriate; remove the requirement for a court to convene in the Territory for serious criminal cases; update the process for detention and interview; and ensure consistency with England and Wales criminal offences and penalties.

 

Environmental Protection Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance was originally created in 1997 and is linked to the provisions of the UK’s Antarctic Act 1994. The amendments to this Ordinance have been made partly to reflect changes made in light of the Antarctic Act 2013. Some elements from the previous ordinance relating to permits for expeditions, presence on stations and vessels and aircraft have been removed and inserted into the Immigration Ordinance 2020. A reference to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels has been added, removing the need for a separate ordinance as was previously the case. There is also text covering the use of assistance dogs. A small but significant amendment has been to introduce the term ‘reckless’ in relation to behaviour when a group or individual behaves recklessly to disturb wildlife. This would enable the Government of BAT to pursue that individual or group.

 

Income Tax Ordinance 2020

Income Tax is an important revenue source for the Government of BAT. This primarily applies to overwintering scientists working for or attached to the British Antarctic Survey. Changes have been made to clarify the position set out in the previous Ordinance. There is no change to how BAS processes income tax, but the wording should clarify the current practice.

 

Interpretation and General Provisions Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance relates to the interpretation, publication and operation of Ordinances and other instruments.

New sections on ‘Fees’, ‘Forms’, ‘Evidence’, and ‘Provisions as to Penalties’ have been added. Two amendments from 2016 relating to publications of the Gazette and the updated Registration Ordinance have been incorporated.

 

Crown Proceedings Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance makes provision relating to the ‘civil liabilities and rights of the Crown’ and to ‘civil proceedings by and against the Crown’. It also makes provision relating to the civil liabilities of persons other than the Crown in certain cases involving the affairs or property of the Crown.

Additional definitions of aircraft and ships have been added.

 

Commissioners for Oaths Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance provides for the appointment and functions of commissioners for oaths, for the administration of oaths or taking affidavits by certain other persons.

Wording relating to when an oath cannot be taken has been removed allowing greater flexibility in who can take an oath.

 

Currency Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance makes provision with respect to the bank notes and coinage of the Territory.

References to revoked legislation have been removed and the fine for anyone purporting to issue currency for the Territory without a licence has been doubled.

 

Registration Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance provides for the registration of births, deaths and marriages. Some offences under this Ordinance have had their penalty increased to include a possible term of imprisonment.

 

Postal Services Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance makes provision for the postal service. Changes include new sections covering the establishment of Post Offices, the role of a Postal Agent and their functions. This intends to clarify rather than make any substantive change to the postal administration.

 

Place-Names Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance identifies the official list of the names of places within the Territory and provides for the status of names included in the list and for the modification of the list from time to time.

Changes have been made to update what is meant by the Gazeteer reflecting the fact that the modern Gazeteer is an online document.

 

Immigration Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance provides for the control of entry into and residence in the Territory and for the removal of persons from the Territory.

This now includes detail previously contained within the Environmental Ordinance 1997 to cover permit requirements needed to enter the Territory.

 

Existing Laws (Repeal) Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance deals with repealing all the older legislation and what remains. By the very nature this covers a lot of what will remain in place. It also preserves current appointments.

 

Firearms Ordinance 2020

This Ordinance deals with the possession and use of firearms. One of the penalty fines has doubled.

 

Prisons Ordinance 2020
Public Funds (Procedures) Ordinance 2020
Imports and Exports (Control) Ordinance 2020
Customs Ordinance 2020
Misuse of Drugs Ordinance 2020
Attorney General Ordinance 2020
Marriage Ordinance 2020
Licensing (Sale of Alcohol) Ordinance 2020

No substantial changes have been made to these Ordinances