Tom Bolt, Managing Attorney of the St. Thomas law firm, Tom Bolt & Associates, P.C., was among the 250 attorneys, judges, law professors, legislators and other state and territorial officials – all lawyers – participating in the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), concluded today in Big Sky, Montana. Bolt was honored at the meeting by being elected as a Life Member of the ULC, having served as U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner since 1988. Bolt is currently a member of the Legislative Council of the national organization.
Commissioners come together as the Uniform Law Commission once a year to study and consider draft of specific statutes in areas of law where uniformity between the various states and territories is desirable. Eight new uniform acts were approved Thursday at the ULC Annual Meeting in Montana, dealing with issues ranging from a new law that addresses common interest ownership communities such as condominiums and other types of planned communities to a revised act providing for enhanced enforcement of child support laws.
The Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (UCIOA) provides for the creation, management and termination of condominiums, planned communities, and real estate coopertatives. Yvonne Tharpes, Chief Counsel to the Legislature of the VIrgin Islands and another member of the U.S. Islands delegation to the ULC served as a member of the UCIOA drafting committee. The act includes a Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill of Rights Act which may be enacted with the comprehensive UCIOA or as a separate act.
Bolt, a longstanding member of the Virgin Islands Bar Association’s Legislation and Law Reform Committee, noted that reform of the U.S. Virgin Islands condominium law has been a goal for local attorneys. "With all the recent litigation regarding condominiums in the Territory, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands would be doing the public a tremendous service by enacting this new law."
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was amended at the ULC Annual Meeting. Lisa Harris-Moorhead, Code Revisor to the 27th Legislature of the Virgin Islands and the third member of the U.S. Virgin Islands delegation served as a member of the UIFSA drafting committee. The new legislation is tied to a federal mandate enacting the 2000 Hague Convention on Maintenance, which was signed by President George W. Bush earlier this year. The UIFSA 2008 amendments modify the current version of UIFSA’s international provisions to comport with the obligations of the United States under the treaty. The federal enacting legislation states that UIFSA 2008 must be adopted by all states and territories by 2010 to insure continued funding of local child support programs.
Another uniform law enacted at the ULC Annual Meeting was the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act which would permit in state and territorial court proceedings, unsworn declarations under penalty of perjury to be executed by witnesses located outside the United States in lieu of affidavits, verifications, or other sworn court fililngs. Obtaining an affidavit abroad can be a costly and time-consuming process. A uniform law on this subject will be extremely useful in transnational litigation.
The Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act (RUUNA) was a joint project of the ULC, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and the Mexican Center on Uniform Laws. The RUUNA is a revision of a 1996 uniform law and governs all unincorporated nonprofit associations that are formed or operate in a jurisdiction that adopts the act. There are hundreds of thousands of unincorporated nonprofit associations in the United States, including educational, scientific and literary clubs, sporting organizations, political organizations, neighborhood associations and the like. Current law is unclear and RUUNA provides a basic framework for them, limiting liablity of the association, while allowing the association to incur liabilities in its own name.
Amendments to the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Principal and Income Act were also approved. Information on all of these acts, including the approved text of each act, can be found at the ULC website, www.nccusl.org
Once an act is approved by the ULC, it is officially promulgated for consideration in the states and territories. and the various legislatures are urged to adopt it. Since its inception, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
The U.S. Virgin Islands joined the ULC in 1988 with Attorney Bolt as its first Commissioner and has enacted over 41 uniform or model acts of the Conference. The procedures of the Uniform Law Commission insure meticulous consideration of each act. The ULC usually spends a minimum of two years on each draft. Sometimes, the drafting work extends much longer. No single state or territory has the resources necessary to duplicate this careful, detailed, non-partisan effort. Working together, with pooled resources though the ULC, the U.S. Virgin Islands joins with every other state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to produce the impressive body of laws knows as the "Uniform State Laws."