Implementation of our reports
The Commission’s recommendations for law reform have a profound practical effect on the legal rights, duties and liabilities of a large number of people – but only if they are implemented by Parliament. We can make recommendations but only Parliament can change the law. More than two-thirds of the Commission’s law reform recommendations have been implemented, and a number await the Government’s decision or Parliamentary time. As a result of the Commission’s ongoing work, large areas of the law have been the subject of systematic investigation and improvement.
Protocol between the Lord Chancellor (on behalf of the Government) and the Law Commission
Following the commencement of the Law Commission Act 2009, in March 2010 the Government and the Law Commission agreed the terms of a Protocol in relation to our work. The latter part of the Protocol sets out departmental responsibilities once we have published a report. The Minister for the relevant Department will provide an interim response to us as soon as possible (but not later than six months after publication of the report), and will give a final response as soon as possible but within a year of the report being published.
Lord Chancellor’s report to Parliament
In November 2009 the Law Commission Act 2009 was passed by Parliament (amending the Law Commissions Act 1965). A key feature of this Act is that it places a requirement on the Lord Chancellor to report to Parliament annually on the Government’s progress in implementing our reports.
Protocol between the Welsh Ministers and the Law Commission, and the Ministers’ annual implementation report
The Wales Act 2014 amended the Law Commissions Act 1965 to take account of Welsh devolution. It inserted a new section 3D which provides the statutory basis for making a protocol between the Welsh Ministers and the Law Commission (Protocol rhwng Gweinidogion Cymru a Comisiwn y Gyfraith), which sets out how we should work together on law reform projects. The protocol was signed on 10 July 2015.
The 2014 Act also requires the Welsh Ministers to report annually on the implementation of Law Commission proposals relating to devolved Welsh matters. The first report was laid before the Welsh Assembly on 16 February 2016.
Law Commission parliamentary procedure
On 7 October 2010 the House of Lords approved a new parliamentary procedure that had been recommended by the House of Lords Procedure Committee as a means of improving the rate of implementation of Law Commission Reports. Bills are suitable for this procedure if they are regarded as “uncontroversial”. The procedure is intended to reduce the time that Law Commission Bills spend on the floor of the House by providing for certain stages to be carried out in Committee. This allows the Bills to be considered and scrutinised despite the pressures of Parliamentary time.
Implementation to date
We maintain a table showing the current status of all Law Commission law reform reports. As well as the online version, we also publish this information in our annual report.