Much of Law Commission work directed by minister

The Law Commission has told parliament's justice and electoral committee that although its governing statute allows it to initiate its own law reform projects, it has not done so in recent years, and 90% of its current work is directed by ministers.

In the committee's report of the 2010/11 Financial Review of the Law Commission, it says the Commission adopted a new process to improve the development of its work programme in 2010/11.

A new process was adopted in 2009 to ensure timely Government responses to Law Commission reports. The committee says it understands this process is working well, although it would like to see its recommendations progress more quickly through Parliament.

From 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2011, the Law Commission presented 26 reports to Parliament, of which 16 have been accepted to date.

"We understand that in some overseas jurisdictions, law commission reports are presented with draft bills attached, effectively by-passing their first reading," the committee report says. "These processes guarantee that the commission's recommendations are debated in the House. The commission also suggested that different procedures might usefully be considered for various types of legislation. It is constrained internally by insufficient legislative drafting resources, and externally by the priorities of the Government of the day."