The Commission is an independent body established under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975. The Law Reform Commission Act 1975 states that the Commission's role is to keep the law under review and to conduct research with a view to the reform of the law. The 1975 Act defines law reform to include:
- the development of law
- its codification (including its simplification and modernisation) and
- the revision and consolidation of statute law.
Sources for the Law Reform Commission Work
The Commission's law reform research work arises from two main sources:
1.) under a Programme of Law Reform prepared by the Commission and agreed by Government and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas under the 1975 Act; and
2.) in accordance with a request from the Attorney General under the 1975 Act.
1.) Programmes of Law Reform
A Programme of Law Reform is prepared by the Commission, approved by Government and placed before both Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with the 1975 Act.
Please click here for more information about the Current and Previous Programmes of the Law Reform
2.) Attorney General Requests
Under the 1975 Act, the Attorney General may also request the Commission to examine specific areas of law in addition to those in a Programme of Law Reform.
To date the Commission has published 43 reports on matters referred to it by the Attorney General. You can see a separate list of these reports here and the relevant reports are also included on our list of project publications by year and can be searched by keyword via our search our publications hub.
Stages of a Law Reform Project
To be successful, law reform must be an inclusive process. As such, the consultation process is of central importance to the Commission's work. Consultation may take several forms:
1.) The Commission may meet with experts or practitioners working in a particular area, or representatives of interest groups.
2.) The Commission may then prepare an Issues Paper. The purpose of an Issues Paper is to provide a summary or outline of a project on which the Commission is embarking or on which work is already underway and to provide readers with an opportunity to express views and to make suggestions and comments on specific questions. Issues Papers represent current thinking at time of issue, within the Commission, on specific items where this is stated. This thinking should not be taken as representing a settled position taken by the Commission.
The Issues Papers are circulated to members of the legal professions and to other professional groups who are likely to have a particular interest in, or specialist knowledge of, the relevant topic. They are also published on the Commission's website to ensure they are available to all members of the public. Please note that consultees need not answer all questions and are also invited to add any additional comments they consider relevant. Comments and suggestions are warmly welcomed on any of the questions asked from all interested parties. Please also note in this regard that submissions are, in principle, subject to the possibility of disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Any person can make a submission saying that they are making it on a confidential basis, especially if it contains personal information, and we would then treat it as confidential as far as possible. In the event that we receive a request for any material to be disclosed under FOI, we will, before releasing the information, contact the person concerned for their views.
3.) Before the drafting of the Report a seminar is usually held to which the Commission may invite any interested parties, or those who have made submissions.
Measuring the impact of our work
Fundamentally, the production of our consultative papers and final reports - including the related public consultative events – as well as our access to legislation work, serves our ultimate aim of developing and reforming aspects of the laws of Ireland to ensure that they are equitable, modern, fair and efficient. However, allied to this are associated outcomes such as educating and facilitating community engagement by the general public about the subject matter of inquires and about law reform itself. To achieve this, we are conscious of the importance of:
- the number and range of stakeholders consulted with regard to our work
- judicial, academic, expert and media coverage of our work, and
- visibility of our work via various speaking engagements we have been invited to as well as improved accessibility to our work on the web.
When it comes to our report recommendations, we hope that the above outputs work together to achieve implementation and are conscious of the importance that our recommendations achieve acceptance, either through legislation or other measures, including case law. In terms of legislation, about 70% of our reports have influenced the content of enacted legislation. Simply follow this link to our ‘search our publications’ page and click on the report of interest to find details of all implementation measures which are up to date as of January 2020.