Who are they?
The Law Commission is the statutory independent body created by the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where it is needed.
What’s their purpose?
The aim of the Commission is to ensure that the law is:
- as cost-effective as possible
Areas of law
Commerical and common
Property, family and trust
Statute law repeals
Other (These projects lie outside the areas of law covered by the legal teams.)
Criminal law team
Professor David Ormerod was appointed Law Commissioner with effect from 1 September 2010 for up to five years.
Professor Ormerod is Professor of Criminal Justice at the School of Law Queen Mary University of London and a practising barrister. He edits the Criminal Law Review and authors Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law.
The team is supported by a number of lawyers and research assistants.
Current and future projects
Contempt of Court
Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts
Insanity and Automatism
Misconduct in public office
Offences against the person
Simplification of the Criminal Law
Simplification of the Criminal Law: Public Nuisance and Outraging Public Decency
Unfitness to Plead
Previous projects have included:
Murder, manslaughter and infanticide
Assisting or encouraging crime
Conspiracy and Attempts
But what do they actually do?
Well, the Commission conduct research and consultations and subsequently make recommendations to Parliament as to how they think the law ought to be changed and why.
The purpose is to improve the law by codifying the law, eliminate anomalies (and errors) repeal obsolete enactments and reduce the number of separate statutes (not an easy task with the rafts and rafts of criminal legislation).
The Commission does not give legal advice.
How do they decide what areas to consider?
Before deciding which projects to take forward, the Law Commission takes views from judges, lawyers, Government Departments, the voluntary and business sectors, and the general public.
The Commission considers reviewing an area of law reform against certain criteria:
- importance – the extent to which the law is unsatisfactory, and the potential benefits from reform
- suitability – whether the independent non-political Commission is the most suitable body to conduct the review
- resources – valid experience of Commissioners and staff, funding available, and whether the project meets the requirements of the programme