Law Reform Commission of New South Wales

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission is a commission to investigate, review and advise on the reform of the law in New South Wales, a state of Australia. The present commission came into existence on 25 September 1967 although it had been administratively established previously in 1966 [1]



There has been a history of law reform in common law countries such as Australia. Prior to the establishment of the commission, various parliamentary inquiries, ad-hoc commissions (such as Commissioner’s Bigg report into the New South Wales legal system in 1820), or panels had advised on law reform. The commission was the first permanent body established in Australia to continually conduct and investigate law reform. It’s establishment is important as it was an independent body that could devote its deliberations full-time to examining law reform in the state [2] The first real law reform commission in the state was one set up in 1870 by the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and set up by letters patent of 14 July 1870. The commission consisted of the five lawyers and the Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir Alfred Stephen. This Commission prepared a draft bill to simplify equity procedure and indicated the need for consolidation and reform of lunacy, insolvency and jury laws. Its only success came long after the body lapsed with the eventual enactment of part of its proposed Criminal Law Consolidation and Amendment Bill in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1883.[3]


The commission is established under the Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW). The Governor of New South Wales may appoint a chairperson of the commission. The current chairperson is James Roland Wood. The governor may also appoint deputy chairpersons of the commission. The governor must also appoint two other commissioners to the commission. Both the chairperson and the commissioners must be: (a) is or was the holder of a judicial office, (b) has experience as an Australian legal practitioner in legal practice, (c) has experience as a teacher of law, or (d) has academic attainment in law. Commissioners may be appointed as full-time or part-time commissioners.


Under the Law Reform Commission Act, the commission may make interim and final reports on any of its work. The New South Wales Attorney General may also direct the commission to make a report. The commission is also required to make an annual report on its work during the year. For the commission, the year starts in July and ends in the following June. The report is furnished to the attorney general who may then table the report in the New South Wales Parliament.

Work of the commission

Some of the recent reports of the commission include reports on Uniform Evidence Law, majority verdicts, uniform Succession Laws, family provision, and expert Witnesses.


  1. ^ homepage of commission, access 1 March 2007]
  2. ^ homepage of commission
  3. ^ Precursors of the NSW Law Reform Commission (1870-1965) - Law Reform Commission : Lawlink NSW

External links

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