Law reform bodies can be a great source for legal research. They often conduct widespread consultation with stakeholders, may compare how other jurisdictions deal with the same problem and they frequently dig into the history of an issue.
Here are a few examples from the past few weeks:
- Law Reform Commission of Ireland Issues Paper on Consolidation of evidence legislation: "As part of its forthcoming Report on Evidence (the 'Report') the Commission is considering recommending the consolidation of existing legislation concerning the law of evidence , together with reform of three areas of the law of evidence : hearsay, documentary (including electronic) evidence and expert evidence . The Commission envisages the Report having two aspects . The Commission first intends to discuss and make recommendations concerning a general consolidation of the existing legislation on the law of evidence, both pre-1922 and post-1922, (the 'general consolidation'). This will be the focus of Chapter 1 of the Report. In the remaining chapters of the Report, the Commission also intends to discuss the consolidation and reform of the law on hearsay, documentary (including electronic) evidence and expert evidence , on which the Commission has published three separate Consultation Papers (the 'specific reforms') . The law in these three areas comprises a combination of common law and legislation, and the Commission’s Report will involve recommendations proposing consolidating and reforming the existing law."
- New Zealand Law Reform Commission Report Review of the Law of Trusts: A Trusts Act for New Zealand: "The Report recommends the introduction of a Trusts Act to replace the Trustee Act 1956. The new Act would be a comprehensive statute that modernises the law of trusts in a number of areas and addresses key matters that are currently only governed by case law (…) The matters addressed by the recommendations include: setting out the characteristics of a trust and how a trust is created; setting out the duties of trustees; modernised trustee powers provisions; a modernised, flexible approach to investment; improved procedures for the appointment and removal of trustees; more comprehensive and useful provisions on the variation and revocation of trusts; a refined approach to the power of the courts to review the actions of trustees; and the replacement of the rule against perpetuities and Perpetuities Act with a new rule limiting the maximum duration of a trust." Over the consultation period, the Commission released 6 issues papers as part of its review which looked at all aspects of trusts in New Zealand as well as other countries. The first introductory paper is particularly valuable as it traces the development of the trust from its origins in England many centuries ago through to the present day both in New Zealand and internationally.
- Alberta Law Reform Institute Report on Non-Profit Corporations: last spring, the Muttart Foundation hosted a conference in Banff, Alberta at which the Alberta Law Reform Institute consulted with experts from Non-Profit sectors across Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The report summarizes the results of the consultation and will help in developing recommendations for reforming Alberta's legislation on non-profit corporations.
Ted Tjaden has a section on how to find law reform commission reports on his legal research and writing website.