Sri Lanka being a multi cultural, multi ethnic country is governed by multiple laws depending on the geographic area of the country. Also Sri Lanka had the influence of its Western colonial rulers, mainly the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English when it comes to governing laws of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has the following laws in place within its borders as of 2019;
- The Roman-Dutch Law – Introduced by the Dutch, thi laws is the most influential branch of Island’s legal system and considered as the common law of Sri Lanka.
- The English Law – Introduced by the English, this law is also known as British law and Sri Lanka’s Criminal Law is mostly based on this.
Apart from the two main laws mentioned above, Sri Lanka also has certain laws that governs certain parts of the Island and demographics. These are known as Personal Laws and are as following;
- The Kandyan Law – Applicable only to Sinhalese families and their descendants living in regions coming under Kandyan Kingdom (Central Province of the country and its suburbs).
- The Thesawalamai Law – Applicable only to Tamil families and their descendants living in Jaffna peninsula. This law governs all immovable properties like lands and buildings within the region.
- The Muslim Law – Applicable only to practitioners of Islam religion.
Apart from these general laws; there are many acts which you need to be aware of if you intend to buy or rent real estate within Sri Lanka.
- Rent Act No. 7 of 1972 – This act governs all aspects of renting property.
- Protection of Tenants (Special Provisions) Act No. 28 of 1970 – This act protects tenants from owners who force tenants out any properties.
- National Housing Development Authority Act No. 17 of 1979 – This act oversaw the establishment of National Housing Development Authority (NHDA).
- Ceiling on Housing Property Law No. 1 of 1973 – This law regulates size, ownership, cost of construction of properties.
- Pradeshiya Sabhas Act No. 15 of 1987- This act created the Pradeshiya Sabhas for local administration.
- Urban Development Authority Act No. 70 of 1979 – This act established the Urban Development Authority (UDA).
- National Housing Act No. 37 of 1954 – This act created the National Housing Commissioner.
- Urban Councils Ordinance No. 61 of 1939 – This governed the establishment of Urban Councils.
- Land Acquisition Act No. 9 of 1950 – This act governs provisions for acquiring of private lands for public use.
- Land Reform Law No. 1 of 1972 – This act utilizes agricultural lands efficiently to generate more employment and productivity.
- The Land Grants (Special Provisions) Act No. 43 of 1979 – This act grants agricultural lands or estate lands for Sri Lankans without lands.
- Primary Courts Procedure Act No. 44 of 1979 – This is used to settle land disputes resulting from war, act of violence, etc.
- The Prescription Ordinance No. 22 of 1871 – This sets time duration for insulating actions in courts of law.
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