European Journal of Law Reform


Implementation of Law Reform Proposals in the United Kingdom: A Continuing Dilemma?

Keywords law reform, government, legislation, parliament, implementation
Authors Jonathan Teasdale
Author's information

Jonathan Teasdale
Jonathan Teasdale is Associate research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS, University of London) and co-leader of the IALS Law Reform Project at the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies.
  • Abstract

      Law reform in the joint jurisdiction of England and Wales, and in Scotland, was put on a formal footing in 1965. Down the years the two Law Commissions (as statutory independent bodies) worked diligently to produce a significant number of reports advising government on steps to be taken to update and simplify swathes of the law. But by 2009 the legislative implementation rate had slipped badly and Parliament then passed an Act which (for England and Wales) facilitated a governmental protocol designed to make parliamentary review of progress more transparent. The Ministry of Justice acts as gatekeeper for the implementation process. In the short term implementation was taken more seriously, driven by the incentive of the MoJ having to report annually to parliament on progress. In more recent years, however, both implementation and the statutory reporting mechanism have been allowed to slip: there are few signs that the situation is likely to improve. This article examines the position and seeks to explain, notwithstanding some of the real obstacles to swifter implementation, that both parliament through its select committees, and government, need to give the issue greater priority. Systematic review of the law, and the delivering of legislative change, underpin both the rule of law and the essence of the democratic settlement.

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