Rationalisation of Fifth Programme of Law Reform

During the summer of 2023, more than four years into the Fifth Programme, the Commission, with the consent of the Attorney General, conducted a review of the projects remaining on that Programme and the Fourth Programme. The objective of this review was to determine whether the remaining projects would, if undertaken, be:  
  1. important, relevant and respond to a real public need; 
  2. a prudent use of resources that did not: (i) overlap with the work of another body, or (ii) overly concentrate the Commission’s scarce resources in one project for an undue period of time.  

It concluded, and the Attorney General concurred, that some of these projects had been overtaken by events since the approval of the Fifth Programme. As such, further work on these areas would no longer be a prudent use of the Commission's resources. The projects that have been discontinued are: 


Reason for discontinuation 

Fifth Programme, Project 4, Structured Sentencing 

Overtaken by the Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee established by the Judicial Council: section 23 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. 

Fifth Programme, Project 6, Perjury 

Overtaken by the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act 2021 

Fifth Programme, Project 8, Regulation of Detention in Garda Custody 

Overtaken by the General Scheme of the Garda Síochána (Powers) Bill 

Fifth Programme, Project 11, Liability of Hotels and Related Establishments 

Policy context has shifted towards a greater focus on regulation of short-term letting, which is, in part, to be addressed by proposals at EU level. See also the General Scheme of the Registration of Short-Term Tourist Lettings Bill 2022 

Fifth Programme, Project 13, Aspects of the Law of Evidence (Privilege and Bad Character Evidence) 

While aspects of the Commission’s large-scale review of the law of evidence (Report: Consolidation and Reform of Aspects of the Law of Evidence (LRC 117-2016)) remain outstanding further work on discrete aspects of the law of evidence not considered to be an effective deployment of the Commission’s resources. 

Fifth Programme, Project 14, Aspects of Family Law (Proper Provision on Divorce only) 

Given the Commission’s current resourcing constraints, priorities, and existing commitments, focus will instead be given to the aspect of the project relating to recognition of foreign divorces 

Fifth Programme, Project 15, Aspects of Land and Conveyancing Law (Prescriptive Easements only) 

Overtaken by the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2021 

In addition, the Commission concluded that some projects on the Programme, and part of one project from the Fourth Programme, should be paused with a view to giving them further consideration at a later date. Projects that are currently paused and that are not under consideration at present are: 


Reason paused 

Fourth Programme, Project 4, Contempt of Court and Other Offences and Torts Involving the Administration of Justice 

Priority will, for the moment, be given to the Third-Party Litigation Funding aspect of this project, and the Commission will reconsider the contempt of court aspect at a later date. 

Fifth Programme, Project 5, Consolidation and Reform of Sexual Offences 

  1. The consolidation aspect of this project would engage a significant amount of Commission resources for several years at a minimum and would risk disproportionately impacting its ability to undertake and complete other projects. 
  2. Several reforms in this area are either currently under consideration or have been completed in the last several years, for instance: 
    • several reforms relating to, among other topics, sexual activity with children and protected persons in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017; 
    • the introduction of certain presumptive mandatory sentences by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2019; 
    • the introduction of a set of offences relating to intimate images by the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020; 
    • the introduction of preliminary trial hearings by the Criminal Procedure Act 2021; 
    • the proposed amendment to the law of rape as well as several aspects of criminal trial procedure in sexual offences cases by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking) Bill 2023. 

Fifth Programme, Project 3, Privacy and Technology in the Digital Age 

This project, as proposed, is very broad and wide ranging. It would, if executed as proposed, consume a significant amount of Commission resources for several years, to the detriment of other projects. As such, the Commission will monitor developments in this area to determine if a more discrete and self-contained project on the theme of privacy, technology and the digital age more generally could be undertaken.  

Fifth Programme, Project 10, Protective Costs Orders 

Paused pending the outcome of the Review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme being conducted by the Civil Legal Aid Review Group. 

This leaves the following projects, which constitute the Commission's active and anticipated workload: 

  1. Fifth Programme, Project 2, A Regulatory Framework for Adult Safeguarding; 
  2. Fifth Programme, Project 7, Compensating Victims of Crime; 
  3. Fifth Programme, Project 12, Liability of Unincorporated Associations; 
  4. Fourth Programme, Project 4, Third-Party Litigation Funding; 
  5. Fifth Programme, Project 1, Non-Court Adjudicative Bodies and Appeals to Courts; 
  6. Fifth Programme, Project 14, Aspects of Family Law (Recognition of Foreign Divorces only); 
  7. Fifth Programme, Project 15, Aspects of Land and Conveyancing Law (Adverse Possession only).