The law commission is an independent full time law reform body, set up by the Law commission Act 1965, this act gives the Law Commission its powers and duties. it has full-time staff, headed by 5 law commissioners, one of whom is the chairman. The chairman is the face of the Law Commission and also has the job of overseeing all the aspects of the other commission's work.
Under s.3 of the Law Commission Act 1965 the role of the Law Commission is to 'keep under review all of the law'. This includes the codification and consolidation of all law.
Codification & Consolidation
Codification is the bringing together of all law, on a particular topic into one act of parliament. This is because unlike many other countries the law in Britain has been developed bit by bit over hundreds of years. This sometimes makes the law difficult to access and understand.
Consolidation brings all the statutory provisions relating to a particular area into one Act. As with codification this makes law more accesible and understandable. While codification and consolidation make the Law easier to understand, it does require constant updating to truly fulfill its purpose.
Repeal of obsolete law is the removal of laws that have no further use. Many laws have no become out of date or irrelevant due to the passage of time, and it is important to remove these acts as it makes researching law more time consuming and confusing. With limited exceptions and Act of Parliament can only be repealed or altered by the introduction of another Act.
Advantages & Disadvantages of The Law Commission
- The Law Commission posseses considerable legal non-political expertise, there is a considerable amount of research that goes into each issue it investigates. As a result all proposed reform is well informed. This helps to avoid problems when the new law is bought into force.
- The Law Commission is an independent body, this ensures that ALL the law is kept under review not just the law the Government wishes to focus on. This means the Law Commission could focus on an area of law they themselves which to investigate or an area of law the Government ask them to focus on.
- The main disadvantage with the Law Commission is that about one third of its reccomendations are not implemented. The Government is not in anyway obliged to implement any of its proposals. This is because often the nature of the reccommendations to not coincide with the political agenda of the Government.
- This lack of power is further illustrated by the fact the Government is also not obliged to consult the Law Commission on any law they wish to introduce.
- The investigation of the current law is a lengthy process and it can sometimes be years before a report is produced, and sometimes current investigations can be interrupted by other on-going investigations.
Pressure groups are groups of individuals who campaign for reform of law. They can rnge from a single person to several thousand. They employ a variety of methods in order to influence parliament, including lobbying, marches, petitions, demonstrations and publicity campaigns.
There are two types of pressure groups, sectional or interest pressure groups and promotional or 'cause' pressure groups.
Sectional or interest Pressure Groups
Sectional or interest pressure groups exist to further the interestas of a section in society. An example of which would be the National Farmers Union, who promote the interest of farmers; the British Medical Association, promote the interest of those in the medical proffession, and the Law Society who promote the interests of solicitors.
The degree of influence yielded is dependant on whether or not the Government support their particular interest. The major sectional groups are always more influential because they represent large sections of society and the Government need their support. A Government who does not listen to a major sectional group will often suffer at the election.
Cause Pressure Groups
Cause pressure groups often promote a belief or ideal, for example, Greenpeace believe in the preservation of the earth, RSPCA believe in the elimination of cruelty to animals, and Fathers 4 Justice believe in the right of fathers to have access to their children.
The influence yielded by these pressure groups is often less than that yielded by sectional pressure groups. They are also less likely to be consulted and the formative stages of law as they do not have close links with MPs.
Well organised cause pressure groups are much more likely to succeed, for example the RSPCA is a long established charity which has a considerable amount of support from the British public.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Groups
- Many pressure groups are successful in raising public awareness of an issue through a broad range of tactics. fathers 4 Justice has been notably successful in raising public awareness through stunts such as scaling Buckingham palace dressed as Batman. This raising of awareness reminds Parliament of the importance of an issue, as Parliamtn is sometimes consumed with debating only issues on the Governments political agenda.
- Organized Pressure groups possess a considerable amount of expertise, this is a necessity as in order for them to get their points across and produce a convincing argument.
- The main disadvantage with pressure groups is that they are inevitabley biased in favour of their cause of belief. They are only interested in putting their point across and rarely produce an objective balanced argument.
- the views held are often very passionately, which sometimes results in undesirable tactics, involving criminal behaviour, an example of which would be animal rights activists damaging animal testing labs.