03/08/2012

Law Reform Proposals Must Not 'Gather Dust' - Judge

Law reform proposals must not just "gather dust", a High Court judge has warned.

Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey is chair of the Northern Ireland Law Commission, an independent body which reviews and recommends reform of the law.

He was speaking as he set out the commission's second reform programme, which includes the following plans:

• Reform of the law relating to bail, where in contrast to England and Wales, there is no central governing Bail Act in place

• Reform of conveyancing for multi-unit property developments, such as apartment blocks - the commission has been examining the legal issues that come up when people share common areas, facilities and services

• Regulation of health care and pharmaceutical professionals, where laws have developed in a piecemeal fashion over 150 years

• Modernising Landlord and Tenant Law, which has been much the same for more than 100 years

• Assessing what criteria courts should use in deciding who is able to understand processings, particularly where defendants have learning disabilities

• Examining the 'insanity' defence

• Comparing delays in the criminal justice system to how other jurisdictions work

Mr Justice McCloskey said: "We look forward to seeing our completed reports to the government of Northern Ireland bearing fruit in the form of concrete legislation with the minimum of delay.

"The whole rationale and ethos of law reform will be dulled and undermined if the Law Commission's thoroughly researched and high quality reports, each accompanied by draft legislation, find themselves gathering dust in the corridors of Stormont."

(NE)

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