As well as members of the Committee, invited guests included Julia Abrey, who is head of the Elder Law team at Withers LLP and chair of STEP’s multi-jurisdictional Mental Capacity Special Interest Group, as well as being a past Chair of Solicitors for the Elderly.
Jane also had to give an annual speech which included a review of the past 12 months in British politics, a review of the past 12 months in the law, and a review of the achievements of the Committee in the past 12 months.
Law Commission – Launch of 13th Programme of Law Reform
Last month Jane Whitfield was also invited by the Law Commission to attend the launch of their 13th Programme of Law Reform. This took place at the Supreme Court and was attended by judges, ministers, politicians and chairs of legal bodies and umbrella groups.
The role of the Law Commission is (a) to ensure that the law is as fair, modern, simple and as cost-effective as possible, (b) to conduct research and consultations in order to make systematic recommendations for consideration by Parliament, and (c) to codify the law, eliminate anomalies, repeal obsolete and unnecessary enactments and reduce the number of separate statutes.
The Law Commission comprises a Chairman and four other Commissioners. The Chairman is either a High Court or an Appeal Court judge, appointed to the Commission for up to three years. The other four Commissioners are experienced judges, barristers, solicitors or teachers of law.
During the launch event, the Law Commissioners explained how they have identified some areas of law that may require reform, and which could be potential projects for the Programme and they are currently seeking views on these.
The two main issues that are likely to affect our clients which the Law Commission is considering looking at in more detail are leasehold law and surrogacy.
In relation to leasehold law, the question they are asking is: “Are there areas of commercial, residential or agricultural landlord and tenant law which impose unnecessary restrictions, inefficiencies or costs?” This is because the law of leasehold impacts the lives of millions of people, whether they are landlords or tenants of homes, farms or businesses, and the Law Commission is aware of increasing dissatisfaction with areas of commercial leasehold law.
While technical, the Law Commission understands that these issues have very significant financial impact and have the potential to inhibit the proper functioning of businesses with knock-on consequences for the wider economy.
In relation to surrogacy, the question they are asking is: “Is the law governing surrogacy keeping pace with social change?” This is because various stakeholders have suggested that the law relating to surrogacy should be reviewed and Jane Ellison MP, Under Secretary of State for Health, has indicated her and the Government’s support for inclusion of such a project in the Law Commission’s 13th Programme consultation.