Law Commission's update reveals economic and social benefits from law reform in England and Wales

The update shows the potential for economic gains of over £670 million

Law Commission's update reveals economic and social benefits from law reform in England and Wales

The Law Commission of England and Wales has released an update to its 2019 report, highlighting how law reform provides tangible and enduring economic and societal benefits.

The "Value of Law Reform" report covers 2019 to 2023, highlighting the Commission's recommendations and projects' significant economic and societal benefits. The update follows the initial report published in 2019, which had already underscored the substantial impacts of law reform.

The latest findings reveal that the Law Commission's work since 2019 could potentially generate economic gains exceeding £670 million over the next decade. This conservative estimate excludes an additional £1.1 billion in net benefits to UK businesses from implementing the Electronic Trade Documents Act alone. The update also emphasized the wide-reaching impact of the Commission's projects, including those on Marriage, Hate Crime, and Automated Vehicles, which could benefit millions of individuals and most households across the country.

Peter Fraser, chair of the Law Commission, emphasized the dual goals of demonstrating the effective use of public funds through law reform and learning to prioritize work better to maximize public benefit. The updated report builds on this foundation, showcasing the Law Commission's commitment to producing reforms that offer efficiency gains, technological growth, harm prevention, and improvements in well-being and access to justice.

Key achievements highlighted in the update include the implementation, in whole or part, of recommendations from two out of five case-study projects within the four years. The annual number of reports published during this time, including through the global pandemic, was higher than the Commission's historical average, indicating a robust and responsive law reform process.

The report introduces "thought leadership" as a new key theme, recognizing the Law Commission's role in fostering substantive public discourse on national and international law reform. Examples include the Hate Crime project's contribution to developing a Private Members' Bill on public harassment.

Over 250 reports have been published by the Law Commission since its inception in 1965, with about 25 of these from January 2019 to September 2023. The government is set to implement significant recommendations from seven Law Commission projects in the upcoming parliamentary session.

The update further elaborates on the theoretical and practical benefits of law reform, aligning with the seven existing themes identified in the initial report and introducing the additional theme of thought leadership. The report calls for more comprehensive data collection to better understand the impacts of law reform and suggests further exploring the Law Commission's role as a thought leader.

The update and the original 2019 report are available on the Law Commission's website.

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