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Published by gandwell

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Published by: gandwell on Jan 20, 2011
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(a)A good legal system cannot keep the same laws and principles that the system was founded on, thelaw must adapt to changes in society. If they didnt laws would become outdated and irrelevant, andthere would be no laws on crimes and things that werent around at the beginning of the system.There are four popular methods of law reform in England and Wales; Judicial change, Reform byParliament, Pressure Groups and law reform agencies.Judges play a part in Law Reform in Judicial Precedent. In some cases they can create important newlaws, as seen in RvR (1991) when a Judge ruled that a husband could be found guilty of raping hiswife. This decision created precedent for future cases and future Judges to follow. Other way isthrough Judges disagreeing with the wording of an existing Act of Parliament or because they areunhappy with their decision because they have to follow a previous precedent. Here, Judges whengiving judgment can draw attention to the need for reform.Most law reform in the English & Welsh legal system is done by Parliament. The reform can becategorized under; the Government can repeal old laws, and get rid of them; the Government cancreate new laws; the Government can consolidate a law which means all existing provisions aredrawn into one single Act, which makes the Act more accessible and clear to read. About fiveConsolidation Bills are passed each year by the Law Commission. Finally law can be reformed inmeans of Codification. Codification involved bringing together all the law on one matter into onesource of law.Pressure groups can also campaign for reforms in the law. Pressure groups can use various methodsand techniques to get their point across, such as: publicity, petitions, lobbying MPs, demonstrators,and writing to MPs/ministers. An example of a successful pressure group is the Snowdrop petitionwhich managed to get the Government to ban most types of handguns. Reform can also originatefrom media pressure campaigns i.e. Steven Laurence (naming and shaming paedophiles, treatyobligations from the EU which influence changes in our law, and reforms proposed by other politicalparties. Also, when a subject has particular high feelings amongst the public, Parliament mayconcede to public opinion and change the law.Reform also comes from specialized committees and agencies to revise the law and proposepotential revisions. The Criminal Law Revision Committee was set up in 1957, a part time body, topropose changes to the criminal law. They produced 18 reports up to 1986, and sat monthly untilthat date. Many of its smaller and precise recommendations on a certain matter did become laws,though its wider changes were often never applied due to lack of parliamentary time.The main law reform body is The Law Commission, which was set up in 1965. 5 people make up thecommission; from the judiciary, the legal profession and legal academics assisted by legally qualifiedcivil servants. This full time reform body deals and considers with areas of law which are believed tobe in needs of reform.Apart from full time bodies like The Law Commission, there are also part time committees or RoyalCommissions which are set up to investigate and report one on specific area of law. After their taskis completed they are dissolved. The independent and non-political committee, write a final report,and pass it to the Government who has to decided whether or not to act on the Royal Commissions
recommendations. Examples of important Royal Commissions include the 1981 Royal Commissionon Criminal Procedure and the Royal Commission on the House of Lords 2000. Another method of reform is public inquiries, a one off temporary committee to deal with disasters or major events.Examples include the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield and the sinking of the Herald of FreeEnterprise.To conclude, the main methods of reform in England and Wales come from The Government, thepublic, the media, reform bodies full time, and part time.(b)The Law Commission has been rather hit and miss in its achievements and successes. Orin ally TheCommission founded in 1965 and the main Reform Body, original idea was the idea of codification(bringing together all the law on one matter into one source of law) which they have failed to do.The Commission may select areas of reform that it wishes to promote, or have topics referred tothem by the Lord Chancellor on the behalf of the Government.The first few years of the Law Commission, their success rate was high- their first twenty law reformprogrammes was accepted within an average of two years. In this success the Unfair Contact TermsAct 1977 and The Criminal Attempts Act 1981 can be found. The first ten years of the Commission,85 percent of its proposals were enacted by Parliament. But the next ten, only 50 percent of itssuggested reforms became law. This lack of success has been blamed on a lack or Parliamentarytime, and an apparent disinterest by Parliament in technical law reform.Some of the important reforms that have been passed in recent years include: The Land RegistrationAct 2002, The Fraud Act 2006, and The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.One of the biggest problems is reviewing and reforming Criminal Law. The Law Commission workedwith three leading academics to produce a draft Criminal Code which was published in 1985. Theoffences covered by the code were said to cover between 90 and 95 percent of the work of thecriminal courts. Radical indeed. But the code was not considered by Parliament. Due to the largeamount of law covered in it, it was split in to three draft bills, but Parliament never found the time todebate the proposal. The Law Commission was set up by Parliament to help them review and reformlaw, and while smaller and less wide baring recommendations are accepted, Parliament is slow toimplement these recommended reforms by the Law Commission and make them into law. In 2008the Law Commission announced that they would no longer seek to codify the criminal law andinstead would concentrate on specific area of reform of the law.While the Law Commission is undoubtedly major player in reform in the law in the English andWelsh legal system, more than 80 percent of reports do become law- but there are many reports stillto await the Governments verdict. While this can be accounted for lack of parliamentary time, it isalso due to a lack of commitment to reform of lawyers law, while delegated legislation could beused in some areas of technical law; is it undemocratic if unelected people and groups have the

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