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: 3 May 2024.

Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)The ALRC  has published an issues paper and is seeking submissions on how Australia’s justice system can better serve the victim survivors of sexual violence. The ALRC will report to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus by 22 January 2025. View the terms of reference.
21 March 2024: The ALRC’s report on Religious Education Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws was tabled in Parliament and published.
ACT Law Reform and Sentencing Advisory Council (LRSAC)12 March 2024: The LRSAC is currently operating on a 12-month pilot. Members were appointed in October 2023 for one year. The LRSAC has dual functions of providing advice to the ACT Government on sentencing issues and law reform issues. The ACT Attorney-General has assigned two referrals to the LRSAC for advice and report in 2024: sentencing for dangerous driving (due July 2024) and a review of the Bail Act 1992.
New South Wales Law Reform CommissionMay 2024: Submissions have closed for the Commission’s review of the effectiveness of section 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in addressing serious racial and religious vilification in NSW.
Submissions have closed for the  Commission’s review of serious road crime offences. 
Submissions to the  review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), are currently being reviewed.
Queensland Law Reform CommissionThe QLRC is undertaking a review of 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.
The QLRC has 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 in July 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 Institute2 May 2024: After extensive consultation and review of existing laws, the independent South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI), based at the University of Adelaide, has found that suppression orders do not need major reform. SALRI’s findings and recommendations are contained in their report Stemming the Unstoppable Tide? An Evaluation of the Role and Operation of ‘Suppression Orders’ in South Australia
Tasmanian Law Reform Institute30 April 2024: Tasmania should enact laws that better protect human rights, a new research paper from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) has recommended.
A Charter of Human Rights or a Human Rights Act should be adopted and an independent Human Rights Commissioner appointed to better protect Tasmanians, the Institute says.
In its report A Charter of Human Rights for Tasmania? Update, the TLRI has made 21 recommendations and urged Tasmania to become the fourth jurisdiction in Australia to adopt human rights legislation.
Law Reform Commission of Western Australia15 May 2024: The Attorney General tabled the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia’s Final Report about Western Australia’s sexual offence laws.
It makes recommendations to modernise Western Australia’s sexual offence laws, including that Western Australia adopt an affirmative consent model to apply to sexual offences. It reviews the definition of consent, the circumstances in which there is no consent, the defence of mistaken belief in consent, the directions given by judges to juries in sexual offence trials, Western Australia’s substantive sexual offences and the maximum penalties for sexual offences. View the Sexual Offences report.
2 May 2024: The Commission is reviewing WA’s Guardian and Administration legislation.
Te Aka Matua o te Ture/ New Zealand Law Commission19 April 2024: The law overseeing the rights of adults with affected decision-making capacity requires such significant reform it should be repealed and replaced with a new Act, the New Zealand Law Commission says. The focus of this review is the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act (PPPR Act) which is the primary piece of legislation relating to decision-making capacity: The Commission is now consulting on its second issues paper on adult decision-making capacity law which suggests possible options for reform.
22 March 2024: Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission has published the final report of its third review of the Evidence Act 2006. The report, Te Arotake Tuatoru i te Evidence Act 2006 | Third Review of the Evidence Act makes 27 recommendations including:
• creating an express exception for mātauranga (Māori knowledge) and tikanga from the application of the hearsay rules;
• allowing the admission of out-of-court statements from witnesses who are too fearful to give evidence in court;
• reforming the balancing test for admitting improperly obtained evidence;
• creating specific safeguards for the admissibility of prison informant evidence; and
• clarifying the scope of medical privilege.
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 Wales16 April 2024: The Law Commission of England and Wales has commenced a research review of agricultural law in Wales.
27 February 2024: The Law Commission has published an update to its publication The Value of Law Reform covering 2019 to 2023  looking at how law reform provides tangible and enduring benefits to the economy and society. The update shows the potential for economic gains in excess of £670 million and positive impacts for significant numbers of people.  
26 February 2024: The Commission is seeking views on how best to regulate self-flying and remotely piloted aircraft including drones. The consultation and summary are available, and open until 27 May 2024.
22 February 2024: The Law Commission is launching a call for evidence to inform its project on private international law in the context of digital assets and electronic trade documents. The project has a particular focus on crypto-tokens and electronic trade documents.
Scottish Law Commission30 April 2024: The Scottish Law Commission has published a Discussion Paper on the Tenancy of Shops (Scotland) Act 1949. The Paper focusses on the law that applies when leases to retail, food and drink hospitality,  or hair and beauty businesses, expire.
25 Apr 2024: The Scottish Law Commission has published a Discussion Paper on Tenement law: compulsory owners’ associations.
British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI)2 May 2024: If you are injured by a robot waiter, hit by a driverless taxi, or libelled by chatbot, what should the legal consequences be? The BCLI’s release (in May 2024) of the Report on Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability offers answers to this question and many others regarding civil justice in cases involving harm caused by AI and AI-directed machines.
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.
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.
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 Ontario18 March 2024: The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) released A New Environmental Bill of Rights for Ontario: Final Report, a comprehensive and independent review of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR). The LCO has concluded that major law reforms are needed to ensure environmental accountability in Ontario. The LCO report makes 58 recommendations to amend the EBR and related policies.
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 ScotiaThe Institute is currently consulting on developing a Parentage Act for Nova Scotia.
New Brunswick Law Reform CommissionContinuing:
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 SaskatchewanApril 12 2024: The final report on the Libel and Slander Act has been released.

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