A round-up of current and recent news and publications from law reform agencies beyond Victoria. Follow the links to the agencies in the left column for full information on their activities.
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Most recent update: 23 January 2024.
|Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)
|23 January 2024: The ALRC will report on how Australia’s justice system can better serve the victim survivors of sexual violence. The review will be led by South Australian judge Liesl Kudelka and former Victorian judge and former chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Marcia Neave. A major focus will be consent laws, which vary across the country. The ALRC will report to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus by 22 January 2025. View the terms of reference.
18 January 2024: The ALRC’s consumer experiences in financial services report has been tabled in Parliament and published. The ALRC found that the legislation governing Australia’s financial services industry is a tangled mess, and has made has made 58 recommendations to simplify the law, including a revamped legislative framework.
The review of Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws was completed 31 December 2023 and will be published after it has been tabled in Parliament.
|New South Wales Law Reform Commission
|The Commission is calling for submissions as part of its review of serious road crime offences. The consultation paper is now available and submissions are invited to email@example.com by 5 April 2024.
29 September 2023: Preliminary submissions have closed to the review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), and some have been published. View the terms of reference.
|Queensland Law Reform Commission
|15 November 2023: the QLRC has commenced a review of particular criminal defences, in particular the defences of provocation, self-defence and killing for preservation in an abusive relationship. The Commission will consider whether there is a need for reform of the law, practices or procedures relating to those defence or excuses; and whether the mandatory penalty of life imprisonment for the offence of murder should be removed. Report is due 1 December 2025. Terms of reference.
25 August 2023: The QLRC released the first of a series of Background Papers for its review of mining lease objections: Introducing Our Review: Background Paper 1. A consultation paper will be published by the end of May 2024. It will include questions for consultation and ask for submissions, to be made by the end of July. A final report with recommendations will be given to the Government by 30 June 2025.
|South Australian Law Reform Institute
|The Succession Act progressed through Parliament with all party backing and passed the Lower House on 27 September 2023. The Bill is a major update to succession law to bring it into the modern age in one Act. The Act incorporates seven past SALRI reports and implements 104 of SALRI’s 118 recommendations.
The SALRI is reviewing how suppression orders are being used and considering whether the South Australian Parliament and courts are achieving a satisfactory balance between open justice and other competing interests. Consultations took place until September 2023. Suppression orders fact sheet.
|Tasmanian Law Reform Institute
|7 June 2023: The TLRI will review the ability of the state’s youth justice system to respond effectively to sex offences committed by young people.
The Tasmania Law Reform Institute has been tasked with examining the state’s legal protections around privacy. On 2 May 2023 the Institute released a privacy issues paper calling for submissions by 11 July 2023. View the public submissions to the privacy inquiry.
|Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
|February 2023: the Commission released Volume 1 (Objectives, Consent and Mistake of Fact) and Volume 2 (Offences and Maximum Penalties) of a Discussion Paper that outline options and poses questions about changing Western Australia’s sexual offence laws. The Final Report is now complete and has been submitted it to the Attorney General for tabling in Parliament.
|Te Aka Matua o te Ture/ New Zealand Law Commission
|21 September 2023: Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission has published a Study Paper: He Poutama (NZLC SP24), which completes the tikanga Māori project led by Hon Justice Christian Whata. The Study Paper reviews tikanga in Aotearoa New Zealand law and aims to give guidance to law makers and others interested in the ongoing interaction of tikanga and state law.
1 September 23: Submissions are being reviewed and work is continuing on the Review of Adult Decision-Making Capacity Law. The Commission will provide its final report to the Minister of Justice by 30 June 2024.
7 August 23: Submissions are being reviewed for the review of how the Evidence Act 2006 is operating in practice. The Commission must deliver its final report to the Minister of Justice in February 2024.
28 July 2023: Submissions are being reviewed for the project Public safety and serious offenders: a review of preventive detention and post-sentence orders. The review covers preventive detention, extended supervision orders and public protection orders. The purpose of these laws is to keep the community safe from people convicted of serious offences who are considered to pose risks of committing further serious offences. Further consultations are expected in 2024. The Commission will publish a Preferred Approach Paper in mid-2024 for further consultation. It will produce a final report with recommendations to the Government in late 2024.
Sex, gender and discrimination: in January 2023 the Commission commenced a project to review the protections in the Human Rights Act 1993 for transgender people, non-binary people and people with diverse sex characteristics. It expects to publish an issues paper in mid-2024. View the terms of reference.
The Commission has also been asked to undertake a review of legal responses to hate speech.
|Law Commission of England and Wales
|15 December 2023: The Law Commission will review the legal framework for kinship carers. Kinship care is any situation in which a child is being raised in the care of a friend or family member who is not their parent. More than 130,000 children live in kinship care arrangements in England, but the variety of methods by which kinship care can be formalised, including by way of special guardianship orders, child arrangements orders and by fostering, is complex to navigate and confusing.
11 December 2023: A new book giving an insider’s view of how law reform really works in practice has been published online. Inside Modern Law Reform explains how the Law Commission carries out law reform and the history behind it. As well as describing the history and process of law reform, the book outlines the wide-ranging social and economic benefits it provides and the importance of an independent law commission. Download a pdf of Inside Modern Law Reform.
30 November 2023: The Law Commission has announced detail of its review of Laws on Burial, Cremation and New Funerary Methods.
The law governing how we dispose of the bodies of our loved ones when they die is unfit for modern needs. New methods of disposal (such as human composting) are being developed and used in other countries which are unregulated in the UK. Further, the legislation governing more traditional methods of disposal is outdated, piecemeal and complex. The law does not ensure that a person’s own wishes as to the disposal of their remains are carried out, leading to family disputes. The Commission has divided this project into three strands which will run up to the end of 2027.
– Burial and Cremation has now started and will run until the end of 2025;
– New Funerary Methods will run from the beginning of 2024 to spring 2026;
– Rights and Obligations relating to Funerary Methods, Funerals and Remains will run from the end of 2025 to the end of 2027.
29 November 2023: The Commission will review defences in domestic homicide cases. In this project the Commission will consider the use of defences in domestic homicide in light of modern understandings of the effects of domestic abuse on victims.
17 October 2023: The Law Commission has begun a review into 50-year-old laws on social care for disabled children. It aims to simplify and strengthen the law, allowing children with disabilities to access the support they need. A consultation will be published in spring 2024.
5 October 2023: the Law Commission is consulting on electronic wills and the risks posed by predatory marriage. It is seeking views on whether a new Wills Act should permit electronic wills, either immediately or by allowing for them to be introduced later. An electronic will can be created digitally, using electronic signatures, and can be stored, with no paper version needed. Increasing concerns about predatory marriage cast potential doubts on whether a marriage or civil partnership should continue to revoke a person’s pre-existing will. The consultation seeks to determine how often this form of financial abuse takes place and considers whether wills should continue to be automatically revoked by marriage or civil partnership. Consultations took place up to December 2023.
4 Augut 2023: The Government published its report on implementation of the Law Commission’s proposals from 2018-2023. Since 2010, the Lord Chancellor has been under a duty to report to Parliament on the extent to which the Law Commission’s recommendations have been implemented by the UK Government. Historically, around two-thirds of the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform have been implemented.
|Scottish Law Commission
|9 November 2023: Lady Paton has been re-appointed as Chair of the Scottish Law Commission for a two-year period from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025.
The Scottish Law Commission is currently working on the Eleventh Programme for Law Reform, a five-year programme covering 2023-2027.
Projects in the Eleventh program are:
· Tenement law: compulsory owners’ associations
· Heritable securities
· Aspects of leases
· Aspects of family law
· Damages for personal injury
Joint projects with the Law Commission for England and Wales:
· Insurance law
· Consolidation of statutes
· Statute law repeals
|British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI)
|16 January 2024: The Ministry of Attorney-General for BC has announced a public engagement program for its project to modernize the Family Law Act. The public has an opportunity to share its thoughts on proposals for reform concerning: guardianship of children, parenting arrangements, and contact; relocation of a child; child-centred decision making; children’s views and parenting assessments and reports; family violence and protection orders. It has published a discussion paper (PDF), an executive summary (PDF), and four online surveys.
Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability (“What happens when a robot commits a tort?”) The goal of the Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability Project is to determine how the rules of tort law need to adapt to respond to harm to persons and property caused by autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) systems. BCLI has published a Consultation Paper on Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability. Submissions have closed and it is now preparing its report.
Reconciling Crown Legal Frameworks. The law requires all laws in BC to be brought into alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This program supports the research and innovations required to implement this legislation.
Renovate the Public Hearing Project: Public Engagement & Legal Reforms to Support Housing Supply. BCLI will in this project make recommendations for specific reforms to the Local Government Act and related legislation. Public consultation is being held until 15 March 2024.
Undue Influence Recognition and Prevention: BCLI has updated and re-issued its Guide on practices recommended for legal practitioners to follow in the interests of ensuring that the wills and personal planning documents represent the genuine independent wishes of their clients and can withstand challenge on the basis of undue influence.
|Law Commission of Ontario
|AI, ADM and the Justice System: a multi-year project to consider the development, deployment, regulation and impact of artificial intelligence (AI), automated decision-making (ADM) and algorithms on access to justice, human rights, and due process.
Environmental Accountability: Rights, Responsibilities and Access to Justice – This project considers legal accountability mechanisms for environmental protection in Ontario. A consultation paper was published in September 2022.
Criminal AI Lifecycle Project: the first legal and policy reform project in Canada to review how artificial intelligence (AI) impacts each stage in a criminal justice matter.
The Last Stages of Life project considers how the law shapes the rights, choices, and quality of life for persons who are dying and those who support them. Indigenous Engagement – Last Stages of Life is a distinct engagement process to identify and hear about Indigenous laws and experiences in the last stages of life. The final report, Last Stages of Life for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples was published in May 2023.
Improving Protection Orders: Why protection orders are not working effectively to prevent femicide and intimate partner violence in Ontario.
Consumer Protection in the Digital Marketplace: an innovative, data-driven project to identify law reform options related to so-called “click to consent” or “terms of service” (ToS) contracts. A consultation paper was published in June 2023.
|Access to Justice & Law Reform Institute, Nova Scotia
|The Institute is currently consulting on developing a Parentage Act for Nova Scotia.
|New Brunswick Law Reform Commission
1. Intimate Images Unlawful Distribution Act
2. Fiduciaries Access to Digital Assets Act
3. Remote witnessing of wills and enduring powers of attorney
4. Supported Decision-Making and Representation Act
|Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan
|September 11 2023: The Sales of Goods consultation report has been released.
July 18 2023: Reform of the Class Actions Act final report has been released.