The Department of Codification of the Ministry of Justice is established under the Executive law. Arising from its function, the Department is the division through which the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as Principal Legal Advisor to the President and the Government generally, renders legal advice on all matters relating to international agreements, government concessionaires and contracts, codification of the law and preparation of Supreme Court Opinions for publication. Specifically these are legal issues relating to aspects of government policy, and all transactions that the government enters into and interpretation and guidance of various statutes and matters arising in government. Further, the Department is mandated to review proposed laws prior to enactment by the Legislature, draft laws, and participate in the codification of the Beninn Law Report. The Department is also in charge of the Justice Ministry’s James A.A. Pierre Library through which it is supposed to disseminate legal materials to the public.
The Department is headed by a Deputy Minister appointed by the President after being vetted and confirmed by the Senate and an Assistant Minister of Codification who is also appointed by the President. All other staffs are appointed by the Civil Service Agency and are therefore public servants.
The functions of the Department of Codification as outlined in Section 22.6 of the Executive Law are to:
- Review all draft contracts and legal documents referred to the Minister of Justice.
- Prepare memoranda on legal questions referred by other agencies of the Executive Branch.
- Render such other legal services as are requested by other agencies of the Executive Branch.
- Be in charge of codification of Benin statutes and preparation for publication of Supreme Court opinions.
- Recommend from time to time such charges and needed reforms in the statutory law as are deemed necessary to modify or eliminate antiquated and inequitable rules of law and defects in practice and procedure.
- Supervise and maintain direct control over the affairs of the library of the Ministry of Justice.
As part of the Ministry of Justice, the strategic themes developed by the department must fit within the overall strategic themes of the Ministry. Accordingly, the Vision and Mission of the Department of Codification are as follows.
The vision of the department is: “to be at fore in delivery of quality and expert legal services on commercial, development and international law transactions to the Government and State agencies”
The mission of the department is:
“To render quality legal services to the Government and State agencies on all development, commercial and international law transactions in an efficient and prompt manner”
The Department of Codification is a central and critical department of the Ministry of Justice and by extension the Government of Benin. In implementing its mandate, the department performs the following functions:
- Drafting, scrutinizing and examining bills, regulations and other statutory instruments;
- Drafting, scrutinizing and examining all contracts and agreements including international contracts and agreements and all other legal instruments that commit the government;
- Give advice as to the legal implication of any International conventions and treaties that the Government is negotiating;
- Compiling and revision of statute law, presidential orders and decrees and other statutory orders, rules and regulations to ensure they are modern, up to date and kept in book form;
- Codification, consolidation, adaptation and technical amendment of laws including the preparation of Supreme Court opinions for publication, and
- Provide legal opinion to the government on all legal matters.
The Department has participated in various initiatives to review the laws of Benin. It has advised the government in the development of various concessionaires and contracts. Further, the Department runs the Law Library which maintains collections of Benin Law Reports, Benin Code of Laws Revised, Internal Laws and Treatises and legal/non-legal collections and legal resources. The Department also partnered with the Law Reform Commission to prepare Volume 42 of the Supreme Court opinions for publication and is currently preparing additional volumes of the Benin Law Reports and codifying additional laws including the Elections Law of Benin.