My Experience of the Model Law Commission - Part Two: A visit from the Law Commission
The Model Law Commission aims to mirror the work of the Law Commission and on the 19th of November 2015 we were opportunity to have an intimate view of what that meant due to a visit from the Law Commission. In our weekly Thursday sessions we are usually in our separate teams researching, analysing and debating our area of law. However on this day there was a hustle and bustle as we gathered together and waited to be imparted with knowledge. Indeed we did receive knowledge.
Photo: Students and volunteers engaged in the Law Commission guest lecture.
The presentation which was given by members of the Law Commission was insightful to say the least. We were given an overview of what the Law Commission does but the main onus of the presentation was focused on the report stage. We were told about the work that goes into the making of a law reform report with the hope that its recommendations will be accepted by Parliament leading to the creation of new and improved law. Of course one would expect that the important process of law reform would be approached with a great deal of care, however one might not be aware of how much thought really goes into every proposal made.
The Law Commission is an independent organisation which considers whole areas of law. Each recommendation is preceded by an awareness of a problem in the current law. Here lies the vital
role of the Law Commission, which attempts to alleviate the complications with proposals arrived at only after thorough analysis and consultations. One aspect which was particularly fascinating to learn from their visit was the impact of consultations on their finalised recommendations. I was surprised to discover that proposals can be thoroughly revised depending on the results of consultations. It was a reminder that law cannot and should not be limited to a handful of minds and that law encompasses the masses whose relevance to its creation cannot and should not be undermined. It is encouraging to know that those affected by the law in need of reform can have a direct impact on the outcome when an attempt at reform is in action. This is perhaps what I respect most about the work of the Law Commission.
The effect of all the recommendations is weighed up in what is called an impact assessment. Each potential reform is assessed for its legal, social and economic impact. Although I did imagine something like this would be carried out, the presentation revealed the true nature of the impact assessment showing it to be much more convoluted than I had originally thought. The Law Commission has the difficult job of estimating the cost
and benefits of any potential reform they suggest in non-financial and financial terms. This has to be assessed even when the area of law in consideration is seemingly void of a fiscal element. It was truly interesting to learn how this can be calculated and its importance. The law must above all be reasonable in all aspects; the impact assessment places this point at its centre.
The Law Commission has kept the law under review for 50 years and counting. Their findings and recommendations have seen to positive changes in law. For instance the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which made companies and other organisations criminal liable for deaths caused by bad working practices, was enacted by the government following a report by the Law Commission.
The importance of the Law Commission's independence cannot be stressed enough and is the driving force for creating unprejudiced recommendations of reform that are void of bias and political influence. Although the Law Commission must wait for Parliament to accept and implements its proposals, the importance of their work can’t be disputed. The official website for the Law Commission states the aim of the Commission is to ensure that law is fair, modern, simple and effective. One can’t help but admire such a modest goal.
Law reform is a reflection of growth. To see no reason for it is like one seeing no need for a person to put away childish thoughts, reasoning and judgment once they attain maturity. Law reform acknowledges technological advancement and is necessary to counter complex and/or outdated law. Society is always changing, form our beliefs to our economy, nothing remains the same therefore the laws regulating the state that we live can also not remain the same. If survival of the fittest reigns then law reform is simply adaptation to avoid being left behind in our ever evolving world.
The visit from the Law Commission has taught me much but more importantly increased my curiousity. Participating in the Model Law Commission has seen me practicing the work of the Law Commission which is driven by the belief that even a concept as concrete as law can progress. I have witnessed through the sessions, debates and study of case law and legislation that the inefficiencies in the running of the state can be made better. This give me hope.