What is the Law Commission?
- Full time specialist independant body formed under the ...
- Law Commission Act 1965
- Keeps existing law under review to ensure they are appropriate to modern day society.
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Composition of the Law Commission.
- 5 full time commissioners (a chairman, and 4 other commissioners) supported by a team of lawyers, researchers and administrative staff.
- Each commissioner is appointed by the Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice.
- Chairman must be a High Court Judge (under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007)
- Chairman is appointed for 3 years.
- Commissioners are appointed for up to 5 years from the top ranks of the legal profession.
- Each commissioner is responsible for a different area of law.
- Commissioners are supported by a chief excecutive and 20 members of Government Legal Service, two parliamentary draftsmen (to draft proposed Bills) & research assistants.
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How the Law Commission reform the law.
- Referral - Topics may be referred on the behalf of the Government by the Lord Chancellor.
- Research - Law Commission researches areas of law in need of reform and publishes a consultation paper asking for public, government and lawyers' opinions. This is submitted to Lord Chancellor for approval.
- Consultation - Consultation paper allows interested parties to comment. It describes current laws, sets out problems, and reform options.
- Report - Commission draw up positive proposals for reform and publish along with the research to give them the conclusion. Often Bill is attached to report. Bill then goes through legislative procedure.
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Role of Law Commission
- Law reform is ROLE OF PARLIAMENT.
- Law Commission can only make reccomendations on law reform.
- Section 3 of the Law Commission Act 1965 - function of Law Commission is to keep all law under review with a systematic development and reform.
- Law Commission must identify areas in need of reform, repeal obselete laws and modernise law.
- Must consider specific areas reffered to Commission by Lord Chancellor or Government Department. However Commission can choose areas to consider but public must be asked before they decide on a research programme.
- Law Commission Act 2009 - duty on Lord Chancellor to report annually to Parliament.
- New protocol means that government departments must provide response within 6 months, and full response within a year.
- This leads to increased cooperation after the year 1990 when no laws were reformed.
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What the Law Commission Does:
- Keep all law under review by : Researching area of law in need of reform, issue a Consultation Paper, issuing a Final Report containing positive proposals and a draft Bill.
- Repeal obsolete laws by forming Statute Law (Repeals) Bill for parliament to pass.
- Example : Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998 repealed over 150 complete outdated Acts of Parliament.
- Consolidate Laws - bringing existing statutes all into one Act. Eg Family Laws Act 1996 consolidated domestic violence laws.
- Not always best as shown in Draft Criminal Code which brings all criminal law into one act. Takes too much parliamentary time to be scrutinized.
- Codify areas of Law - Single statute containing whole area of law such as criminal law. Criminal Code Act 1985 and the Full Code 1989 were attempts to codify all criminal law.
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Success of Law Commission
Successes of Law Commission.
- 185 reports, two thirds have been implimented.
- 90 Acts of Parliament passed containing Law Commission Proposals
- 18 repealing reports have been implemented.
- Success example : Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (new law on manslaughter proposed in 1996)
- Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998 repealed over 150 Acts.
- Family Law Act 1996
- Costs only £4 million per year to run
- Law Commission Act 2009 aims to improve implementation rate in the future.
- Government dont have to act on reccomendations but the Law Commission is most crucial influences on Parliament.
- Greatest impact on law and citizens.
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Success of Law Commission
Not so Successfull...
- Lengthy delays to responses in government to the Law Commission Report, particularly from 1990-2000.
- when it was established 85% of proposals came law, this decreased to 50% in following years.
- No proposals were successful in 1990.
- Consolidating Acts takes up valuable Parliamentary time to scrutinize.
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