Your ideas for law reform
We are always interested in hearing about ideas for potential law reform projects.
Our projects on hate crime, harmful online communications, weddings and surrogacy demonstrate that we consider high profile areas of the law which will be important for any Government. The fact that we are independent and undertake consultation on a wide scale is a key asset when trying to build consensus on sensitive issues across a broad range of different interests.
The Commission has a strong reputation for considering technically complex areas of the law, for example planning law in Wales, electronic signatures or the Sentencing Code. These specialist projects may not always be an immediate priority for Government but will still be recognised as being of great significance for individuals and businesses.
Not all legal reform is suitable for the Law Commission. Here are some types of work that are unsuitable:
- We are resolutely non-political and do not get involved in party political issues. Our law reform work will not include subjects where the relevant considerations are shaped primarily by political judgements (for example, abortion, capital punishment, decriminalisation of drug use) or issues of established Government policy such as taxation.
- We do not focus on practical aspects of how the law is applied which would not be solved by law reform, for example whether a given area receives sufficient funding.
- We do not consider problems that relate only to a particular individual’s experience of the law as opposed to a more general problem.
- We tend to work on systematic problems with the law rather than very narrow issues.
- We cannot work on issues that arise only in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
A Law Commission project can only proceed if we have Ministerial support from the department with policy responsibility for the relevant area of law. If Government does not intend to see the law reformed, and there is no realistic prospect of any recommendations we make becoming law, then there is no reason for the Law Commission to embark upon a law reform project. We take on projects either through ad hoc references from Ministers, which can arise at any time, or through more structure Programmes of Law Reform which we periodically agree with the Lord Chancellor.
Criteria underpinning potential law reform projects
The Commission applies criteria which have been agreed with the Lord Chancellor. We will consider:
- Impact: The extent to which law reform will impact upon the lives of individuals, on business, on the third sector and on the Government. Benefits derived from law reform can include:
- modernisation, for example supporting and facilitating technological and digital development;
- economic, for example reducing costs or generating funds;
- fairness, for example supporting individual and social justice;
- improving the efficiency and/or simplicity of the law, for example ensuring the law is clearly drafted and coherent to those who need to use it;
- supporting the rule of law, for example ensuring that the law is transparent; and,
- improving access to justice, for example, ensuring procedures do not unnecessarily add to complexity or cost.
- Suitability: Whether an independent, non-political, Law Commission is the most suitable body to conduct a proposed project.
- Opinion: The extent to which proposed law reform is supported by Ministers/Whitehall, the public, key stakeholders, Parliament and senior judiciary.
- Urgency: Whether there are pressing reasons (for example, practical or political) why reform is required. To ensure a manageable programme of work, the Commission seeks a mix of: (a) urgent projects with tight or fixed timeframes and (b) longer-term projects where there is more flexibility over delivery. There has to be a realistic assessment of the time and resource required to undertake the work to the quality expected from the Law Commission.
- Balance: so far as possible the Commission seeks a portfolio of work which takes account of: (a) the statutory requirement to keep all areas of the law under review; (b) the balance of work across Government departments (i.e. different departmental law reform priorities); and (c) the balance of legal skills and expertise available to the Commission.
Submitting your idea
Please submit your idea using the online form below. Try to provide as much information as possible as this will enable us to consider your proposal and, if relevant, also help to make the case with Government.
You will receive an automatically generated email acknowledgement. Regrettably, we do not have the resources to provide individually tailored feedback for ideas which are submitted. We will review all ideas and consider whether there is a realistic prospect of taking them forward, in line with the criteria above. We may contact you for further details and will therefore keep minimal personal information to allow us to do so, in line with our UK GDPR policy. Sometimes we may work with you and/or other (usually academic) researchers to examine the evidence base in considering whether to take ideas forward.
In addition, you may want to consider writing to your local MP and to the department responsible for the area about which you are concerned making the case for law reform and, if relevant, calling for Law Commission work in the area.
Thank you for taking the time to get involved.