Law reform in other jurisdictions

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: 28 September 2023.

Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)20 June 2023: Justice Mordecai Bromberg has been appointed as the next President of the ALRC.
On 22 June 2023 the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC’s) third Interim Report in its three-year review to reduce complexity in corporations and financial services legislation was tabled in Parliament by the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP. It includes proposals for restructuring and reframing financial services legislation to make it easier to navigate and understand.
1 May 2023: The Australian Government has announced it will establish an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence, with a focus on law reform proposals to strengthen sexual assault laws and improve the outcomes and experiences of victims and survivors in the justice system. The Government says this is part of its ‘commitment to work with states and territories to strengthen and harmonise sexual assault and consent laws, and improve criminal justice responses for victims and survivors.’
Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws: The ALRC released a Consultation Paper on 27 January 2023, and submissions closed on 24 February 2023. In light of the large volume of submissions received, the ALRC requested an extension to its reporting deadline. This extension was confirmed on 20 April 2023, with amended Terms of Reference extending the date for reporting to 31 December 2023.
New South Wales Law Reform Commission

August 2023: The NSW Law Reform Commission has called for preliminary submissions to its review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). Deadline for preliminary submissions is 29 September 2023.
19 June 2023: The Attorney-General has asked the Law Reform Commission to review the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and consider whether it needs to be modified and simplified. The Commission is calling for preliminary submissions by 29 September 2023. Terms of reference.
Review of Serious Road Crime was announced in November 2022. Submissions closed 17 Feb 2023 and preliminary submissions have now been published.
Queensland Law Reform Commission25 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.
The QLRC has completed its report on a framework for a decriminalised sex work industry in Queensland. The report was tabled on 24 April 2024. The 2-volume report, entitled A Decriminalised Sex-work Industry for Queensland (Report No 80), and a report summary are available.
South Australian Law Reform InstituteReview of the Mental Health Act 2009 report was submitted to government at the end of February and published on 19 April 2023.
Tasmania Law Reform Institute7 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 an issues paper, Review of Privacy Laws in Tasmania calling for submissions by 11 July 2023.
Law Reform Commission of Western AustraliaSexual Offences: In February 2023 the Law Reform 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 Commission is now reviewing submissions and preparing the Final Report for this reference. The due date for the Final Report has been extended to 30 September 2023.
Te Aka Matua o te Ture/ New Zealand Law Commission21 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.
7 August 23: Submissions are being reviewed for the review of how the Evidence Act 2006 is operating in practice.  
The Commission is reviewing how the law should respond when an adult’s decision-making is affected. The final report must be provided to the Minister of Justice by 23 February 2024.
28 July 2023: Submissions have closed and 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. The Law Commission’s review was prompted by findings by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2017 that the laws governing preventive detention were in breach of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
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.
The Commission has also been asked to undertake a review of legal responses to hate speech.
Law Commission of England and Wales6 September 2023: The Law Commission has published its final report and final recommendations to update the Arbitration Act 1996 and put forward draft legislation.
4th August 2023: The Government has recently published its regular report on the implementation of Law Commission proposals from January 2018 to January 2023.
27 July 2023: The Law Commission of England and Wales is publishing a paper asking for views on whether and how the law governing appeals for criminal cases should be reformed.  Submissions are open until 31 October.
20 July 2023: The government will ask the Law Commission to review the use of defences in domestic homicide cases. This will look at whether the gender of the defendant impacts how successful these defences are, with the Wade Review suggesting that female defendants are less successful than men. This includes examining the partial defences of “loss of control” and “diminished responsibility” and whether the law adequately considers circumstances where a victim of domestic abuse acts in self-defence.
29 June 2023: Sir Peter Fraser was appointed Chair of the Law Commission, commencing in December 2023. He will replace Sir Nicholas Green.
28 June 2023: The Commission published recommendations for reform and development of the law relating to digital assets. Digital assets include crypto-tokens (sometimes referred to as ‘cryptocurrencies’) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
16 June 2023: The Law Commission has been invited by the Treasury to undertake two projects to review the legal frameworks governing co-operatives and community benefit societies, and friendly societies.
In May 2023 the Commission released a consultation paper, Evidence in Sexual Offences Prosecutions. In particular, views are sought on ways to counter rape myths in sexual offence trials.
20th April 2023: Social Care for Disabled Children. The Law Commission of England and Wales has been asked by the Department for Education to review the legal framework governing the social care of disabled children to ensure that the law is fair, modern and accessible, allowing children with disabilities to access the support they need.
4th April 2023: The Law Commission of England and Wales has launched a review of the laws which determine how finances are divided among couples after divorce. The project will consider the use of financial remedy orders: orders for financial provision between couples at the end of their marriage or civil partnership. Financial remedy orders are governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
29 March 2023: Surrogacy Laws. The Law Commission has published a report and draft legislation for Government to improve outdated surrogacy laws. The report outlines a new regulatory regime that offers more clarity, safeguards and support  for the child, surrogate and parents who will raise the child (“the intended parents”).
Scottish Law Commission29 June 2023: The Scottish Law Commission has published a Discussion Paper on Heritable Securities: Non-monetary securities and sub-securities. The closing date for comments is 29 September 2023.
5 June 2023 The Scottish Law Commission has released the Eleventh Programme for Law Reform, a five-year programme covering 2023-2027.  It includes four new inquiries: Execution of documents; Law of limitation; Executry law; and Consolidation of nature conservation law.
On 29 March 2023 the Scottish Law Commission, jointly with the Law Commission of England and Wales, published the report Building Families through Surrogacy: a New Law. The Report and draft Bill outline a new regulatory regime for surrogacy that offers increased clarity, safeguards, and support. 
British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) 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 and requests submissions by 1 November 2023.
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.
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.
Review of Parentage under the Family Law Act.
Law Commission of OntarioAI, 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 ScotiaThe Institute is currently consulting on developing a Parentage Act for Nova Scotia.

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