As the title suggests the author is Andrew L. Sriro, foreign legal Counsel, and a licensed attorney with the California State Bar. As foreign legal counsel with the law firm of Dyah Ersita & Partners with Andrew L. Sriro and also being one of a small number of foreign lawyers actually registered with the Department of Law and Human Rights, Mr. Sriro has recognized knowledge of Indonesian law across a wide range of legal fields. In addition to writing the desk reference, Mr. Sriro is also the Reviser of the Indonesian section of Martindale-Hubbell’s International Law Digest as well as the author of a number of other books and papers on Indonesian law.
The dilemma that all lawyers face in Indonesia is adequate access to legal resources and this is not just a dilemma for Indonesian language materials. The shortage of resources and sources in English language about Indonesian law is more acute than ever. The legal reformasi process may be slow but it is generating myriad of changes that continue to make the practice of law in Indonesia for foreign legal counsel an extreme challenge. This was one of the many reasons Mr. Sriro provides for starting on this desk reference venture.
Consequently, the desk reference is the culmination of Mr. Sriro’s desire to give something back to the Indonesian community, but generally a book in English is going to provide much more benefit to those of the English speaking community residing in Indonesia or Indonesian lawyers with foreign clients using English as the medium of communication than it ever is for your average Indonesian. Nevertheless, this does not detract in any way from the noble goal of making Indonesian legal resources, especially laws, more widely available in English.
The first edition of the desk reference was published in 2005 and it was a slender volume to say the least. Nevertheless, the review was generally favorable. The 2006 edition was beefed-up considerably and contained a significant number of additions. The 2007 edition is bigger again and has undergone significant internal restructuring and the addition of new chapters and elements of Indonesian law not covered in the earlier versions.
Foreign Trade & Commerce
Government & Legal System
Citizenship & Immigration
Holidays & Office Hours
Criminal Law & Procedure
Debtors & Creditors
Liens & Security Interests
Documents, Identification, & Records
Money & Banking
Monopolies, Restraint of Trade, and Competition
Estates & Trusts
Treaties and Conventions
The style of the book is in most cases dual language as most of the key terms are included in their Indonesian form as well. This although sometimes disrupting the flow of reading and understanding the law, it does serve to highlight to the reader the necessary terms in their original Indonesian and their translated English form. Unfortunately, to date there has been no standardized translations of many of these legal terms and this only serves to complicate matters.
Although not a criticism the grammatical style adopted makes sparing use of the articles ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ giving the appearance of legal document and making for a disjointed reading experience. Most native speakers will undoubtedly sub-consciously insert the missing articles. However, for non-native speakers the style may be a challenge. Once again this is not a criticism of the content.
The content is claimed to be accurate and authoritative and to a large degree this is true. Nevertheless, the author’s intent is to provide an introduction to Indonesian law and not a comprehensive or exhaustive scholarly analysis of each of the individual laws contained in the 24 chapters. Mr. Sriro is unequivocal that despite the accuracy of the volume it is not to be construed as legal advice and any reader needing legal advice should consult a competent professional for that purpose.
The chapters on property, intellectual property rights, business organizations and relations, employment, and dispute resolution are the most comprehensive of the desk reference. Unfortunately, since the date of publication the new Foreign Investment Law and a new Company Law have passed the House of Representatives and this is certain to be two of the chapters that will need to be updated in the 2008 edition.
The desk reference is a valuable contribution to Indonesian legal resources particularly for those whose first language is not Indonesia. It is also a valuable addition because it provides an introduction to Indonesian law. Indonesian law is a complex regulatory framework that relies as heavily on delegated or sub-ordinate legislation as it does primary laws.
Finally, the desk reference is an excellent introduction to Indonesian law for lawyers, business people, and law students. It would also be of considerable use to legal journalists and researchers looking for the relevant law in a certain area. It is certain to come under considerable criticism for any perceived shortcomings and charges that foreign counsel can never really understand the complex nature of Indonesia’s legal system and the Dutch influences that permeate it, neither true nor fair. The book is not perfect and there are some translation and interpretation issues, but it is a considerable improvement over the earlier versions. It is also a valuable introduction to Indonesian law. It is not intended to be an all encompassing legal treatise and it would be unfair to judge this book on this criteria alone.
Nevertheless, with considerable numbers of sub-ordinate legislation being issued it is essential that those with a legal problem don’t rely solely on the desk reference to provide their legal answers but in conjunction with the desk reference obtain legal advice from a competent legal practitioner. But for everyone else with a general interest in Indonesian law and a desire to start a more specific search of Indonesian law, then this is an excellent place to start that journey.
For that reason the desk reference is a worthy addition to any person’s library with an interest in Indonesian law.