U.S. Virgin Islands attorney Tom Bolt,  Managing Attorney of the St. Thomas law firm of BoltNagi PC,  was appointed earlier this week  to the influential Scope and Program Committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law at the organization’s120th Annual Meeting in Vail, Colorado by ULC President Michael Houghton.

The Scope and Program Committee reviews and makes recommendations on all proposals for new  uniform and model acts drafted by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). Bolt, who has served as a U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner for over 23 years, is also a member of the Legislative Council of the Uniform Law Commission.

During the ULC Annual Meeting, the organization approved four new acts dealing with issues ranging from a new law that will authenticate official state and territorial online legal material to a new act establishing a certificate of title system for boats.

The ULC has worked for the uniformity of state and territorial laws since 1892. It was originally created by state governments to consider state and territorial law, determine in which areas of the law uniformity is important and then draft uniform and model acts for consideration by the various jurisdictions.  For well over a century, the ULC’s work has brought consistency, clarity and stability to state and territorial statutory law.

Uniform law commissioners are appointed by every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The commissioners draft proposals for uniform laws on issues where disparity between the states and territories is a problem.

U.S. Virgin Islands commissioner Tom Bolt attended the meeting along with more than 200 lawyers, judges, law professors, legislators, and government attorneys appointed in their respective jurisdictions to serve as uniform law commissioners.


The four acts approved by the ULC during the Annual Meeting include:


The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act provides a clear answer to the question of who is the official publisher of a given governmental record, and how official publishers can authenticate the fact that a given electronic record is, in fact, the official record for citation and other purposes.  With the advent of the Internet, and the rapid adoption of online publication of laws, agency regulations and decisions, and court rules and decisions, it has become much easier for individuals to access government documents.  At the same time, however, it has also become easier for electronic materials to be duplicated and stored in multiple locations.  That makes it difficult to determine whether the decision or statute or rule that was accessed online is in fact the official and authentic text.  The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act is designed to provide clear guidance on this issue. 


The purpose of the Uniform Certificate of Title Act for Vessels is to establish a certificate of title system for boats.  Many jurisdictions including the U.S. Virgin Islands do not have certificate of title laws governing watercraft, and those that do are non-uniform.  The major objectives of the act are to:  (1) qualify as a “state titling law” that the Coast Guard will approve; (2) facilitate transfers of ownership of a vessel; (3) deter and impede the theft of vessels by making information about the ownership of vessels available to both government officials and those interested in acquiring an interest in a vessel; and (4) accommodate existing financing arrangements for vessels. U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner Yvonne Tharpes, Deputy Chief Counsel to 29th Legislature, served as a member of the Uniform Certificate of Title Act for Vessels Drafting Committee.


The Model Protection of Charitable Assets Act will articulate and confirm the role of the state and territorial Attorney General in protecting charitable assets.  The Attorney General’s authority is broad and this Act will not limit or narrow that authority.  The Act provides the Attorney General with an inventory of basic information without overburdening the charities or the Attorney General with excessive reporting requirements.  The Act specifies which transactions and legal proceedings require notice to the Attorney General and provides for registration and annual reports for some charities. 


The primary purposes of the Harmonization of Business Entity Acts (also known as the Harmonized Uniform Business Organizations Code) are to (1) harmonize the language of all of the uniform unincorporated entity acts (Uniform Partnership Act, Uniform Limited Partnership Act, Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, which the U.S. Virgin Islands has previously adopted, with the Model Entity Transactions Act, Model Registered Agents Act, Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act, Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act, and Uniform Statutory Trust Entity Act), and (2) to revise the language of each of those acts in a manner that permits their integration into a single code of entity laws.


In addition to these four acts, Amendments to the Uniform Debt Management Services Act were also approved.  In October 2010, the Federal Trade Commission amended its Telemarketing Sales Rule to cover the business of debt-management services.  Several of the provisions of the amended Rule are inconsistent with provisions in the Uniform Debt Management Services Act.  To avoid any inconsistency between this Act and the newly revised federal law, amendments are proposed to address the timing of fee collection and the use of powers of attorney.  Several other changes were made throughout the Act, to clarify the disclosure and reporting requirements and to address circumstances that have changed since 2005. 


The Act has also been revised to adopt the position that the debt-management services business should be open to both for-profit and not-for-profit entities.  Removal of the option to restrict the business to not-for-profit entities has the incidental benefit of simplifying the Act.


Other drafts which were debated at the ULC Annual Meeting, but which were not scheduled for final approval, included the Uniform International Choice of Court Agreements Convention Implementation Act, the Asset Freezing Orders Act, the Deployed Parents Visitation and Custody Act, and the Premarital and Marital Agreements Act.