Law Commission: 12th Programme of Law Reform

Closed 31 Oct 2013

Opened 2 Jul 2013


The Law Commission carries out law reform projects with the aim of making the law fair, simple, clear and cost-effective.

We are currently consulting on what new areas of law should be addressed in our next programme of law reform. To do this, we are asking: where is the law failing to work properly?

Proposing a law reform project

Please use this survey questionnaire to tell us where you think there is a significant problem with the law. We want to know what you think is wrong and what practical problems arise. Please give us as much information as you can, even if you cannot answer all the questions. If we need to know more, we may contact you.

What types of problem will we investigate?

Not all legal reform is suitable for the Law Commission. Please tell us about a problem only if it relates to the law and is: 

  • causing substantial unfairness, or
  • widely discriminatory or disproportionately costly, or
  • caused by laws or policies that are complex and hard to understand or
  • caused by laws or policies being out of step with modern standards.


Our law reform programme will not include subjects where the considerations are shaped primarily by political judgements (for example, abortion, immigration, membership of the EU, the Human Rights Act, capital punishment, decriminalisation of drug use) or issues of established Government policy, such as taxation. We will not consider problems that relate only to a particular individual’s experience of the law as opposed to a more general problem. We do not work on issues that arise only in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

How we make decisions

 When considering a potential law reform project, we are guided by our Protocol with Government, which is intended to ensure that our recommendations have the best possible chance of becoming law. Some key points that we will look at when considering a project are:

  • How important is the project: to what extent is the law unsatisfactory (eg, unfair, unduly complex, inaccessible or out of date)? What are the potential benefits of reform?
  • Is the independent, non-political Commission the most suitable body to conduct the project?
  • Are the necessary resources (for example, sufficient relevant experience, project-specific funding) available to enable us to carry out the project effectively?
  • Would the project require involvement from the Welsh Government and/or the Scottish or Northern Ireland Law Commissions? 


We will also assess whether there is likely to be Government support for a project. In order for a project to form part of our programme, a Government department must confirm that it has a “serious intention” to take forward law reform in that area. If Government does not seriously intend to see the law reformed there is no realistic prospect of any recommendations we make becoming law.

Please submit your project suggestions using the survey questionnaire below. Alternatively, if you would prefer the questionnaire in a format that you can print off and fill in, or as a Word document, both are available on our website.

Responding to Law Commission project suggestions

We are suggesting a number of potential law reform projects on which we would be grateful for your views. These are areas that our experience and discussions with stakeholders in the course of our projects suggest may be contenders for our next Programme. You will find a set of documents below setting out our proposed projects.

These are only suggestions; please tell us whether  you support work in one or more of these areas and, if so, why. If possible, please set out any evidence you have about problems with the current law and the potential benefits of reform.

Please do this using the survey questionnaire below. Alternatively, if you would prefer the questionnaire in a format that you can print off and fill in, or as a Word document, both are available on our website.

What happens next

We will review all responses before drawing up a list of potential projects, where appropriate working with the relevant Government departments. As set out in the Law Commissions Act 1965, the Lord Chancellor will decide the final contents of the Twelfth Programme. We expect this to be during 2014.

We are likely to receive a large number of responses but can only accept a small number of projects for the Twelfth Programme; for our Eleventh Programme we received over 200 responses, which led to 14 new projects. We understand you may be disappointed if your proposal is not taken forward but please be assured we are grateful for your contribution.


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