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The Work of the British Law Commissions

Law Reform... Now?

By: Shona Wilson Stark
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Published: 13-07-2017
Format: EPUB eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 320
ISBN: 9781509906925
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £36.00
Online price : £28.80
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About The Work of the British Law Commissions

The Law Commission (of England and Wales) and the Scottish Law Commission were both established in 1965 to promote the reform of the laws of their respective jurisdictions. Since then, they have each produced hundreds of reports across many areas of law. They are independent of government yet rely on governmental funding and governmental approval of their proposed projects. They also rely on both government and Parliament (and, occasionally, the courts or other bodies) to implement their proposals. This book examines the tension between independence and implementation and recommends how a balance can best be struck. It proposes how the Commissions should choose their projects given that their duties outweigh their resources, and how we should assess the success, or otherwise, of their output. Countries around the world have created law reform bodies in the Commissions' image. They may wish to reflect on the GB Commissions' responses to the changes and challenges they have faced to reappraise their own law reform machinery. Equally, the GB Commissions may seek inspiration from other commissions' experiences. The world the GB Commissions inhabit now is very different from when they were established. They have evolved to remain relevant in the face of devolution, the UK's changing relationship with the European Union, increasing pressure for accountability and decreasing funding. Further changes to secure the future of independent law reform are advanced in this book.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction
I. Lifting the Law Reform Bonnet
II. Beyond Great Britain
III. Overview
IV. Some Final Preliminaries
2. The Origins of the Law Commissions
I. Pre-1965
II. How Soon is 'Now': Why 1965?
III. Pressures for a Scottish Law Commission
IV. The Law Commissions Act 1965
V. Consequent Issues
3. The Scope of Commission Activity
I. The 1965 Act and Discretion
II. The Need to Control and Facilitate the Exercise of Discretion
III. Previous Deficiencies in the Control and Facilitation of the Commissions' Exercise of Discretion
IV. The Project-Selection Criteria
V. Developing and Strengthening the Criteria
VI. Conclusion: Clarifying and Securing the Scope of Commission Activity
4. The Extent of Implementation
I. Preliminary Issues
II. Reasons for Non-Implementation
III. The Importance of Being Implemented
IV. Attempts to Improve Implementation
V. Conclusion: Quality Over Quantity
5. The Codification Task
I. Definition of Codification
II. Reasons for Tasking the Commissions with Codification
III. Pre-Existing Obstacles to Codification
IV. Developments Reducing the Need for Codification
V. The Commissions' Codification Track Records
VI. Conclusion: Substance Over Style
6. From Harmonisation to Devolution and Brexit
I. Collaborative Projects
II. Individual Projects
III. Devolution
IV. Conclusion: Separate Commissions Working in Sync
7. Law Reform… Now?
I. Servicing our Law Reform Machinery
II. Proposed Amendments to the 1965 Act
III. Final Remarks for Great Britain and Beyond


“ is certainly a work which adds to the sum of knowledge in this important field. It should find a place on the shelves of academics who research the British legal system and share that learning with their students.” –  Jonathan Teasdale, The Theory and Practice of Legislation

“This new book is invaluable for undergraduates wishing to gain greater knowledge of both the Law Commission (of England and Wales) and the Scottish Law Commission which were established in 1965 to promote the reform of the laws of their respective jurisdictions.” –  Elizabeth Taylor and Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmond Green Chambers,

“Bringing together significant information about the nature and development of the Law Commissions, including insightful anecdotage from previous Chairs and members, this book cannot avoid being a useful contribution to the literature on law reform ... a book that brings together some significant and helpful discussion of the role of the Law Commissions and will be a helpful research tool in that context.” –  Daniel Greenberg, Statute Law Review

“[A] well-researched, clear and extended analysis of the work of the Commissions.” –  The Hon Justice Susan Kenny, Federal Court of Australia, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

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