Law Reform ‘worth billions’, Economists find

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In the United Kingdom, the Law Commission’s reform work has provided gains worth billions of pounds to the economy, business and wider society, economists commissioned by the body have found in the first assessment of its kind.

Analysis of eleven projects, of the 230 produced in the body’s 55-year history, found predicted economic gains from just five, in recent years, exceed more than £3bn over ten years. The commission costs £5m a year to run.

A 2018 report on creating a Sentencing Code should save the government £256m over ten years by reducing court time and legal costs, the study by economists, Ruth Wainwright and Derrick Jones found.

Meanwhile, policies being implemented by the Department for Health and Social Care in response to the commission’s 2017 mental capacity and deprivation of liberty report would provide an estimated £1.64bn in health benefits over ten years.

Sir Nicholas Green, chair of the commission, said, ‘At one level, in these austerity-straitened times, every governmental body has to provide its value for money. When I came to the Law Commission, it struck me we were not selling ourselves effectively. We are one of the most astonishingly good value for money.’

On the £3bn calculation, Green said: ‘I doubt any other government department or arms-length body could match that rate of return for the public purse. At one level, in all our engagements with government, it’s about finding a way we would be able to say… frankly, what we cost is absolute peanuts, but we provide very good value for money.’

The report will provide valuable ammunition the next time a government proposes a ‘bonfire of the quangos’. However, Green said the report is not just about money, ‘It’s more philosophical, it’s about the role of legislation. The more we learn about the benefits of legislation, the better we will become at reforming the law.’

The commission will consult on its 14th programme of law reform work next year.


This article was originally published by the Law Society Gazette.

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