Law Reform can come from many places such as common law, parliament, the EU and delegated legislation. There have been many reforms in the UK and the last labour government went into overdrive trying to reform the law. Examples of laws that have been reformed are...
-The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexuality
-The Gender Recognition act 2004 allowed transexuals to marry.
Parliament and the courts are bodies that are authorised to reform the law. However no one except parliament itself can change parliaments statutes. Parliament can change common law but common law cannot change parliamentary law. People can campaign to have the law changed or even annulled and there are bodies such as the Law commission whose role it is to change the law and investigate it.
Specialist groups who change the Law
Propasals for new laws can come from pressure groups such as fathers for justice and amnesty international. These groups go to lengths to get media coverage recognised in parliament. The media can also influence changes in the law such as the media's coverage of the Stephen Lawrence case which exposed the police's awful investigation.
Also public enquiries such as those set up to look into specific issues such as the Hillsborough tragedy and murders which were enquired about such as the disappearance of Heather West. The government must agree with the findings on an enquiry when it has been completed, before the law gets altered.
Law reform committees- Are committees that are part time who look into specific areas of civil law. It is told to investigate certain areas by the government
Royal Commissions- Are set up when the government need an investigation into a particular area of law and it wil be disbanded once the investigation is complete.
The Law Commission- Is a body which is constant. It took over from the criminal law revision and it gets its work from either parliament or itself when it goes into investigation.
The Law Commission
The law commission consists of one high court judge and four other members of the legal profession who are usually judges and barristers. There are many support staff who work for the law commission and they undergo admin work and research. The law comission also employ the queens council or parliamentary council workers who prepare draft bills. The members are employed for five years.
The Law Commissions Role
The Law Commissions role is to keep under review all the law with which they are concerned. The law commission either pick a matter to investigate or parliament will submit a matter of law that needs investigation. The law commission will ask all interested and affected parties about their opinion of the piece of law that needs reforming. Any additional comments or defects that arise are taken into account. The Commission then produce a consultation document which contains their findings on problems with the law and any remedies that may need adding. The document will also contain any additional comments of the affected parties and a draft bill. It is parliaments decision as to whether or not the draft bill goes ahead for the passage of a bill or whether another draft bill needs to be made. The law commission report annually to parliament.
Other duties that the law commission have are the codification of law. This is when all law on one particular matter is brought together e.g all statutes and common law on a matter are brought together.
Another law commission role is the consolidation of law. This is when they bring together all the similar acts of parliament that have been stretched across different statutes.